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End of an era: Michael O'Neill named as new Stoke City boss

Michael O'Neill will stay in charge until March, if Northern Ireland make the Euro 2020 play-offs Credit: Pacemaker

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has been announced as the new boss at Championship side Stoke City.

He takes charge at the club with immediate effect and will attend Stoke's game against Barnsley at Oakwell on Saturday.

O'Neill will remain as Northern Ireland manager until March 2020 if his side makes it to the Euro 2020 play-offs.

There are two remaining qualifying fixtures before then against the Netherlands in Belfast and Germany away.

Taking charge in 2011 after a spell at League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers, Michael O'Neill guided the Northern Ireland men's senior team through one of its most successful periods in international football.

Northern Ireland reached the last 16 at the Euro 2016 Championship finals in France igniting a strong relationship and fondness between manager and fans alike.

Northern Ireland fans at the Euro 2016 squad announcement Credit: Pacemaker

Losing out narrowly to Switzerland, he almost guided Northern Ireland to the World Cup finals last year for the first time since 1986.

Stoke first approached O'Neill on Wednesday night after meeting compensation requirements needed to release him from his contract.

Irish Football Association Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said the organisation 'reluctantly' allowed the club to approach O'Neill regarding the vacant post.

"Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that Michael is leaving us, however we are delighted all parties have agreed Michael will be in charge of the Northern Ireland team for the games against Netherlands and Germany and potential Euro 2020 play-off matches next March," he said.

"Everyone in the GAWA (Green and White Army) family is grateful for Michael’s inspirational contribution over the past eight years.

"After a difficult start to his managerial reign with Northern Ireland he honed an excellent squad and took us to the Round of 16 at Euro 2016, our first major tournament in 30 years. And, of course, he also took us to a play-off for World Cup Russia 2018 and the team have performed extremely well during the Euro 2020 qualification campaign."

Fans will now be awaiting the announcement of O'Neill's replacement Credit: Pacemaker

He continued: "He has instilled incredible belief among our players and inspired countless young people to play football and aspire to play for Northern Ireland. He has also given our wonderful fans plenty to cheer about in recent years."

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Stoke City currently sit bottom of the Championship table and will hope that O'Neill can breathe new lift into a club which has had five permanent managers since 2018.

Northern Ireland currently sits 34th in the FIFA World Ranking table.