Belfast Telegraph

Michael O'Neill speaks about 'tempting' Scotland offer and expects to sign Northern Ireland contract 'in coming days'

By Liam Blackburn

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has confirmed he expects to sign a new contract with the Irish Football Association, having turned down the chance to become the next Scotland boss.

Edinburgh-based O'Neill last week held talks with the Scottish Football Association regarding its vacancy but announced on Monday that he had elected to remain with Northern Ireland.

The 48-year-old was appointed by the IFA in December 2011 and is understood to have been offered improved terms on a deal that will run until 2024.

"We had very positive discussions before Christmas and I envisage now we'll pick up from where we left off," O'Neill said.

"It's not in terms of negotiations, there are just things that need to be sorted. The discussions were very, very positive so I look forward to having something to announce in the coming days."

O'Neill was speaking at this morning's UEFA Nations League, where Northern Ireland were drawn alongside Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovinia.

The former Shamrock Rovers manager also discussed his talks with the Scottish FA, who made O'Neill their top target once Gordon Strachan left the role in October.

However, it took the organisation two months to agree to pay the stipulated £500,000 compensation figure, and O'Neill had already held discussions with the IFA about extending his stay in the aftermath of the ill-fated World Cup play-off tie with Switzerland.

On why he rejected the Scottish offer, O'Neill added: "There wasn't just one factor, of course it was a difficult decision.

"I live there in Scotland, know Scottish football very well, follow it very closely. It was tempting but ultimately I've been in this job six years and I've seen a lot of progression with the national team.

"The (Irish Football) Association showed great faith talking about a new contract so soon after the game in Switzerland - they didn't need to do that.

"I felt it was the right thing to do. It was very difficult, I wish Scotland and their next manager well.  Ultimately it's very difficult once you've led your own country to leave for another country."

Speaking about the UEFA Nations League draw to, O'Neill said: "Austria is a country that we prepared in for the Euros, so it will be nice to go and play there in a competitive game.  Bosnia again are a strong team, but I think it gives us an opportunity for promotion in the Nations League and also the opportunity to win a place at Euro 2020."

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