Belfast Telegraph

Keith Gillespie: IFA should appoint a manger from Northern Ireland

By Steven Beacom

Keith Gillespie believes the Irish FA should opt for someone who has an affiliation with the Northern Ireland team when appointing a new international manager.

Former Liverpool assistant boss Sammy Lee is the latest ‘outsider’ to express an interest in the vacant post, following hot on the heels of the likes of German World Cup winning captain Lothar Matthaus, ex-Wolves boss Dave Jones and former England striker Robbie Fowler.

Kevin Keegan’s representatives also made an enquiry after Nigel Worthington stepped down last month.

The IFA have been inundated with offers from out of work managers and coaches from all over the world.

And that’s before you get to all the ex-Northern Ireland stars who fancy a crack at the job.

Iain Dowie, Jim Magilton, Michael O’Neill, James Quinn, Jimmy Quinn, Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy, Jimmy Nicholl and Lawrie Sanchez would all welcome the opportunity to revive the nation’s fortunes.

One Ulsterman more interested in concentrating on playing, however, is Gillespie, who has agreed to play another season for Longford Town in the League of Ireland.

He is interested though to see who gets the Northern Ireland job and believes that it should go to one of his former international team-mates.

“It is a tough one about who to appoint and plenty of people have been mentioned, but ultimately I believe we should go with someone with an affiliation to Northern Ireland,” said Gillespie, who won 86 caps.

“I know the Republic have had success with Giovanni Trapattoni, but I’m not sure outsiders work in Northern Ireland unless they are something really special.

“We tend to be very patriotic in Northern Ireland and like our own.

“The men who seem to be in the frame are Jim Magilton, Iain Dowie and Michael O’Neill.

“I know all three, played with all three at international level and any of them would be a good choice as far as I’m concerned.

“I think they would have the backing of the fans as well and would certainly arrive with passion and knowledge about the Northern Ireland team.”

The only ‘outsider’ that Gillespie suggests would be a success is former England manager Keegan.

Gillespie played under the charismatic Keegan at Newcastle and says the Northern Ireland public would love him and his style of play.

“I don’t know how interested Kevin is in the post, but if there was any chance at all of employing him, I would urge the IFA to do everything they could to get him,” stated Gillespie, who was signed by Keegan from Manchester United for Newcastle in the deal that took Andy Cole the other way.

“He would be be absolutely fantastic for Northern Ireland.

“I know that the fans would take to him and the players would play for him.

“He was the best man manager I ever had.

“He would certainly get things going for Northern Ireland again. It’s a big job and it is important that the IFA get the right man.”

Belfast Telegraph


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