Belfast Telegraph

Watch: 'He did us proud' - GAWA hail Michael O'Neill as manager's appointment at Stoke City confirmed

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Northern Ireland fans have thanked Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill for the memories with reports his move to Stoke City has been agreed with just compensation with the IFA to be sorted.

Some said it came as no surprise he would eventually depart, but felt the bottom-of-the-table Potters may not be the right fit.

Many said they would love to see him replicate his success with the club that he delivered with the international side.

Gary McAllister chairman of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs said he had brought huge success for Northern Ireland but the fans did not want to see him leave.

"It's a sad day for Northern Ireland football," he said.

"Undoubtedly he leaves our team in immeasurably better shape than when he came into the job.

"His work at grassroots level in overhauling the youth structure, expanding the pool of players available and the obvious attention to detail brought a level of professionalism and focus which earned huge respect not only from the fans, but more importantly from the players.

"The pinnacle was of course qualification for Euro 2016 and we’ll always be thankful to Michael for leading us there. There’s never a good time to lose a successful manager, however we welcome confirmation that Michael will oversee any Euro 2020 play-off."

Supporter Christopher Barry added: "He made dreams come true by getting wee Norn Iron to Euro 2016 and making a more than decent fist of it in France. For that alone we should be forever grateful to him."

As news broke of the imminent departure of the boss to league football, fans swarmed to the Belfast Telegraph's social media pages to give their reaction.

Many fans described the best manager Northern Ireland had ever had and he will be missed among the terraces.

"Good appointment for stoke massive loss for Northern Ireland," said Wayne Williams.

"We've made unforgettable memories.. he is a legend."

It's not, of course, quite goodbye yet as O'Neill will take charge of the final two Euro 2020 qualifiers this month and the play-offs in March, should Northern Ireland be involved.

BREAKING -

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Thursday, November 7, 2019

"What a job he’s done for NI, leaves with our best wishes and only a matter of time before he returned to club management," said one supporter," said Aaron Willis.

With Stoke having won just two of their last games and languishing at the bottom of the league, O'Neill could be in line for a tough time.

"I'm truly shocked by this news," said another fan on social media. "I do wish him well he's done an amazing job at northern Ireland. But I hope its not to much of a mountain to climb with the situation at his new club."

Davy Mills added: "You were living the dream pal, now you are heading to hell."

Motherwell’s Stephen Robinson and Northern Ireland under-21 coach Ian Baraclough will be among the contenders to replace O’Neill. Some have also pointed toward the currently out of work former Republic manager Martin O'Neill for the post.

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