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One day David Healy will make a fine Northern Ireland manager


Child’s play: David Healy and Stephen Robinson keep a close eye on Northern Ireland’s youngsters

Child’s play: David Healy and Stephen Robinson keep a close eye on Northern Ireland’s youngsters

Child’s play: David Healy and Stephen Robinson keep a close eye on Northern Ireland’s youngsters

It was in 2008 that David Healy first talked about the possibility of managing Northern Ireland.

After the story appeared in the Belfast Telegraph there was much feedback from our readers, as was generally the case back then when he was on our pages.

Popular boy.

The feeling was that the fans would welcome such a move, but not for quite some time as they wanted the man from Killyleagh to carry on his remarkable scoring feats at international level.

Seven years later, I sense that time is drawing closer.

Don't get me wrong, Michael O'Neill is going nowhere just yet.

He has to lead the team to the Euro 2016 finals and should do so some time later this year.

That may sound incredibly confident, especially since Northern Ireland last reached the glamour stages of a major tournament in 1986, but it really is the way I feel and have done before a ball was kicked in the campaign.

The draw was kind for us and with three teams from the group potentially qualifying, that was always going to give the players fresh hope that they could finally make it to the big time with Northern Ireland.

What they needed was a bright start and under O'Neill's shrewd guidance they got it, winning 2-1 in Hungary thanks to Kyle Lafferty's late goal.

The Fermanagh forward has continued to be the life and soul of the party, instead of spoiling it, as he was prone to do in the past, and Northern Ireland are now in a fantastic position to make it to the finals in France.

Once they get there O'Neill, who will be offered an extension to his contract by the Irish FA long before then, will be thinking this is as good as it gets for him with Northern Ireland.

And the canny Ballymena man would be right.

Inspiring Northern Ireland to Euro 2016 would see offers from English and Scottish clubs roll in and O'Neill, having taken his country to the promised land, could walk off into the sunset with everyone's blessing.

That's where a new manager will come in.

I'm not sure it would be Healy then, with another Windsor Park hero Stephen Craigan, currently the under 19 boss, in pole position to be O'Neill's successor.

But surely at that stage a plan would be put in place for King David to follow the former Motherwell favourite, which brings me to Stephen Robinson, who has just joined the Fir Park outfit as assistant manager.

Robinson's decision to move to Scottish football prompted thoughts on the accession to the Northern Ireland managerial throne, because while he will continue to work as coach in the senior international set-up with O'Neill, his departure leaves holes in the youth ranks at the IFA which needed filling.

Healy should be consulted about plugging those gaps.

Working alongside Robinson and IFA Elite Performance Director Jim Magilton, I'm reliably informed Healy has impressed while coaching the next generation of young Northern Ireland footballing talent. No surprise. He's always been good with kids.

He's also working well at League One outfit Fleetwood.

Unlike others in management Healy is not the type to push himself forward, but having spoken to Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon about their philosophies, obviously he is keen to learn the trade and it's clear King David has coaching ability to go with his brilliant scoring record at Windsor.

That has to be harnessed by the IFA. There is a Northern Ireland manager in the making. And when the time comes, Healy will be a popular choice.

Belfast Telegraph