Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Northern Ireland and Republic can make World Cup dream a reality: Brendan Rodgers

 

By Graham Luney

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to win their respective play-off showdowns and make it to next summer's World Cup finals.

Northern Ireland face Switzerland in two titanic battles next week with a place at the finals in Russia on the line, while the Republic tackle Denmark.

Ulsterman Rodgers, who was at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on Wednesday to promote his new autobiography The Road to Paradise, says he would like to experience international management in the future but for now he's hoping both Irish sides make the World stage.

"Both have a very good chance of going through," said the former Liverpool boss. "Michael O'Neill has done a fantastic job to take Northern Ireland to the Euros and then sustain that. He's been amazing and they have quality players who he is rinsing everything out of.

"Steve Davis is a player I admire. I tried to sign him for Swansea when he was at Rangers, but he was the captain and it didn't happen. I really hope for Michael and the players that they get to go to the World Cup, because it's been such a long time.

"Martin (O'Neill) does what he does and they have put themselves in a position to qualify too. It would be great if they did it."

Michael O’Neill’s men take on the Swiss at Windsor Park on November 9 with the second leg in Basel three days later. The Republic visit Denmark on November 11 with the rematch at the Aviva Stadium on November 14.

Rodgers is loving life at Celtic where his side have just equalled the club’s unbeaten domestic run of 62 games but admits he could take charge of a national side in the future.

“At some point I’d like to do that,” he said. “Working at international level would be very attractive to me. It’s all about timing. It may be in five years’ time, I’m still young enough and hopefully my career will run for another 20 years but it’s something I’d like to try.”

With Celtic winning league titles and wrestling with Europe’s finest in the Champions League, the Carnlough man says he thrives in a highly pressurised environment.

“There were 60,000 fans in the ground (against Bayern Munich) creating an incredible atmosphere and we were going toe-to-toe with one of the top six sides in world football,” added Rodgers. “There are not many places in world football where I would get the opportunity to do that.

“I signed a new four-year deal with Celtic and I hope I can be at Celtic for that time. I am loving my football life at Celtic and we have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be. I could be anywhere in the world but not be as happy as I am here.”

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph