O'Neill out for quick start as Ireland boss
06 November 2013, 17:41
Dublin - Martin O'Neill has said he will quickly get down to work as Ireland's new manager with the aim of getting the qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 off to a strong start.
The 61-year-old Northern Irishman - along with right hand man Roy Keane - signed initial two-year deals on Tuesday evening, bringing to an end the Football Association of Ireland's search for a replacement for Giovanni Trapattoni.
O'Neill, who had been the top target, took his time over the decision to accept its offer of employment, but said that ultimately he had to accept it.
He told Sky Sports News: "It's a privilege to do it. You know, a job like this may not come round again for quite some considerable time.
"The Republic of Ireland have had some success - Jack Charlton was great, Mick McCarthy excellent, and Trapattoni did very, very well indeed, and all stayed in the job for quite a number of years, so that opportunity might not be afforded to anyone in the foreseeable future."
O'Neill and Keane will get straight down to work next week when the players meet up ahead of friendlies against Latvia and Poland.
However, the immediate long-term aim is qualification for the Euro 2016 finals - a process which will begin in September next year.
Ireland, of course, went to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine under Trapattoni, but they parted company with the 74-year-old Italian in September after successive defeats by Sweden and Austria left their hopes of securing their passage to next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil in tatters with two games still to play.
O'Neill says he knows what is expected of himself, Keane and their players, but is relishing the task ahead.
He said: "I am sure that the players will be very positive. I think, generally speaking, they want to play for their country anyway, regardless of who is the manager.
"There will be some expectation too, but I think we can live with that."
O'Neill's decision to recruit Keane as his number two has raised eyebrows, mainly due to the former Manchester United player's frosty relationship with the FAI and its chief executive John Delaney in the wake of his unscheduled departure from the 2002 World Cup finals squad in Saipan.
However, O'Neill is convinced that is history.
He said: "It's been a long, long time. I know that I have spoken to John Delaney - John Delaney is very, very pleased indeed that Roy is coming on board.
"Roy is naturally delighted himself and I think, going forward, everything should be fine."