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Martin O’Neill

Martin O’Neill aims for European Championship qualification after taking charge of Ireland

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Martin O’Neill

Martin O’Neill has declared it a ‘privilege’ to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni as Ireland boss – and ordered his new assistant Roy Keane not to change his ways.

O’Neill was officially unveiled as Irish soccer’s new Messiah at a packed press conference in Dublin’s Gibson Hotel.

He told the assembled media that his immediate task is to restore morale after a doomed World Cup bid and qualify for the 2016 European Championships in France.

O’Neill told reporters: “It’s a genuine privilege and pleasure to be here today. It’s a privilege being manager of the Republic of Ireland.

“I am genuinely excited by it. I am looking forward to it immensely and just really pleased to be here.

“I obviously have to thank John Delaney and the FAI for choosing me and I hope in the next couple of seasons to try to live up to that.”

The decision to appoint Keane as his number two has garnered most attention but O’Neill was adamant it will work out for all concerned.

O’Neill told Irish state broadcaster RTE: “I think like all of us in the game, he has points to prove. I know how brilliant he was and I know how sometimes how polarised opinions can be with Roy, but I don’t have a problem with that.

“If you are asking about over-shadowing, one of the greatest managers in the game finally decided that Roy was no longer wanted because he felt he was going to be over-shadowed.

“If he decides on the same thing, I might call Alex Ferguson up and see how he dealt with it.

“But all told, I think it he will be great. I think he will be great for me for a start - I would like that - but more importantly, I think he will be brilliant for the Republic of Ireland.

“I am absolutely delighted he is on board. He is an iconic figure, a great, great player, one of the best players to have played in the Premier League since its inception, a great, great player, so I haven’t a problem with that there.

“I am not here to change Roy Keane, not at all. I want Roy, essentially, the way he is. I think he is very, very keen and very excited by it. He wants to do well and that is good enough for me.”

The Ulsterman will take charge of Ireland for the first time on Friday when Latvia provide the opposition at the Aviva Stadium in a friendly.

He added: “I wish there were some competitive games coming up more quickly than they are, but that’s the nature of the business.

“But I think John has told me that it is my remit to get the team to France.

“My contract lasts for the duration of the time that the Republic are in the Euros and that is my driving ambition.

“I think there is pressure there of course, but it is something that I have been used to all my life. This is an opportunity here. A fantastic opportunity and it is one I would like to grab. I’m excited by it.”

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