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Co Antrim football manager who led NI squad to Euro success

NI manager Michael O'Neill celebrates after the side qualified for Euro 2016 finals. Photo by Niall Carson/PA Wire

MICHAEL O'Neill was last night being hailed for masterminding Northern Ireland's Euro qualification dream.

The manager has been lauded for turning the side's fortunes around to secure their place at the tournament finals for the first time.

The DUP's Jim Wells was among those to single him out, tweeting: "What about a knighthood for Michael O’Neill - what an amazing manager. I hope we can keep him".

But while his footballing fortunes are on the rise, O'Neill's roots remain in Ballymena where he was brought up.

Hiss parents Des and Patricia still live in the Co Antrim town where their son grew up playing football for Chimney Corner and Coleraine as well as Gaelic football for All Saints GAC.

He attended All Saints Primary School and later St Louis Grammar, Ballymena, where he won the Northern Ireland Schools FA Cup.

O'Neill played locally with Coleraine as well as with clubs in England, Scotland and the United States.

His GAA background is less well known but he played football at minor and senior level for All Saints.

He abandoned his A-levels at St Louis' to sign for Newcastle United where he became their leading goalscorer in his first year.

O'Neill was capped 31 times at international level by Northern Ireland, scoring four goals.

His first managerial role was with Brechin City, before a successful spell with Shamrock Rovers.

He took over as Northern Ireland manager in 2012.

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