IFA president Jim Shaw last night admitted he was shocked and saddened that Nigel Worthington has decided to resign as Northern Ireland boss.
Worthington informed president Shaw on Sunday evening of his decision to stand down after tonight’s final Euro 2012 qualifying game against Italy in Pescara.
Shaw believes Worthington, who was appointed boss in June 2007, has made a huge contribution to Northern Ireland football — this despite the poor results in Euro 2012 qualifying Group C.
“I was surprised when he came to me and told me of his decision and I always think it’s a sad day when a manager goes when he hasn’t done anything dramatically wrong,” conceded Shaw last night.
“Both personally and on behalf of the Association I’d like to thank Nigel for all the good work he’s done in maintaining continuity and the development of the game in Northern Ireland during his four-and-a-half years in charge.
“People don’t always see what’s going on underneath the water when the duck’s sailing along nicely on the surface but the work he has done and the input he’s had at all levels of the game, right down to grassroots and disability football, has been admirable.
“I respect his decision to go.”
Worthington, up until the 4-1 defeat in Estonia last month, was determined to remain as Northern Ireland boss and wanted to lead his country into the 2014 World Cup qualifiers which start next September.
So would the IFA have offered Worthington a new contract if he hadn’t decided to fall on his sword? “That’s now a hypothetical question,” said Shaw.
“As I’ve said all along the Association was never intending to discuss the manager’s situation until the last game of the campaign was over.
“Therefore we have never discussed it and I could never give you a definitive answer on that.
“But I would have thought everything was in the pot and so of course he would have been spoken about in the discussions.
“In all instances, we discuss things properly and do what’s right for the Association.”
The IFA will not start their search for a new manager right away.
They will wait for the management board to meet, which is not scheduled until later this month, to outline the process of how they go about appointing a new boss.
Already former players Iain
Dowie and Jim Magilton have indicated they would be interested in the position.
Magilton said: “I would be keen to speak to the IFA — it's something I've always wanted to do, it's an ambition.
Dowie said: “We are a proud nation and I would welcome a conversation with the IFA if they want to talk to me.”
Shaw added: “I can’t decide exactly what happens next. We have a board, the IFA is run by a management board and the next scheduled meeting is towards the end of this month.
“It’s the third or fourth Thursday and it will be up to them to decide the process for moving forward.
“Nigel has done what he’s wanted to do. There is a game to be played and I think we will leave any further talk of a new manager until after the game.”