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Michael O'Neill signs contract to remain Northern Ireland manager

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Michael O’Neill’s four-year contract extension as Northern Ireland manager has been formally announced at a media conference in Belfast.

The 48-year-old recently turned down the chance to succeed Gordon Strachan as Scotland boss.

Instead O’Neill opted to accept the longest and most lucrative contract in the Irish FA’s history.

The former international midfielder had been contracted until 2020 and the new deal will run until 2024.

It means he should guide Northern Ireland through the next two European Championship campaigns and the qualifying series for the 2022 World Cup which is to be held in Qatar.

It is believed his contract again has a clause entitling the IFA to compensation if O’Neill moves on to a club job.

“I am pleased to be extending my time in charge of the senior team,” said O’Neill.

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“Recently I was approached about taking other opportunities in football, but no other challenge attracted me as much as taking Northern Ireland back to a major tournament.”

O’Neill has been in charge of Northern Ireland for six years, the highlight being reaching the last 16 at the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

The NI team followed that by finishing second behind Germany in their World Cup qualifying group for this year’s finals in Russia, before being controversially beaten by Switzerland in the play-offs.

Edinburgh-based O’Neill had talks with the Scottish FA but last month revealed his decision to stay on as Northern Ireland manager.

He is also taking up an additional role of Chief Football Officer and will have a key role in the development of the game in Northern Ireland.

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BBC Sport – Football

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