Sat 10 July 2021 | 19:29

Martin O'Neill Biography

Many regard him as the best head coach in the history of Northern Irish football. In this article, we will take a look at Martin O'Neill biography.

Martin O'Neill, born 1 March 1952 in Kilrea, Northern Ireland, is a former Northern Ireland professional footballer who spent most of his playing career with Nottingham Forest, he also played as a midfielder for many other English football clubs. With Nottingham Forest, he enjoyed great success in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He went on to become national champion with Nottingham Forest and twice won the European Cup I in 1979 and 1980. He also won the UEFA Super Cup in 1979.

O'Neill went on to play 64 games (nine goals) for Northern Ireland. His national debut came on 13 October 1971 in the European Championship qualifier against the Soviet Union (1-1), where he was substituted for Bryan Hamilton after 65 minutes. His 64th and final game were played on 14 November 1984 in the World Cup qualifier against Finland (2-1). O'Neill took part in the 1982 World Cup in Spain with Northern Ireland.

In 1987, after finishing his playing career, O'Neill became a coach, trainer and/or technical manager. In doing so, he brought Leicester City FC to the Premier League in 1997 and 2000 and was Scottish national champion several times with Celtic FC. After five years of service, O'Neill stepped down as manager of Aston Villa FC on 9 August 2010 without a public reason. Then in December 2011, he was appointed manager of Sunderland AFC.

He was dismissed at the end of March 2013. He joined Ireland as national coach at the end of 2013, replacing Italian Giovanni Trapattoni. With a 3-0 win in the friendly match against Latvia on 15 November, O'Neill started his career with the national team, followed four days later by a 0-0 draw in Poznań against Poland.

All You Need to Know About Martin O'Neill Biography

O'Neill qualified with Ireland for the 2016 European Championship in France in November 2015 by defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-offs. Ireland was knocked out of that tournament in the eighth final by hosts France after two goals from Antoine Griezmann.

It was on 23 January 2018 that O'Neill extended his contract as national coach of the Irish national team. He renewed it until 2020. He also retained his assistant Roy Keane, even though the Ireland team, under the leadership of O'Neill and Keane, had failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The team lost to Denmark in the play-offs.

Martin O’Neill Information

Now that we know him better, in this section of

Martin O’Neill biography

, we will share some general information about him such as

Martin O’Neill nationality

to let you know him even more.

Martin O’Neill Bio

  • Full Name: Martin Hugh Michael O'Neill

  • Nickname: Martin the Magnificent

  • Profession: Professional Footballer

Martin O’Neill Physical Stats

  • Weight: 74 Kg

  • Height: 178 m

  • Eye Color: Blue

  • Hair Color: Dark Brown

Martin O’Neill Football Information

  • Position: Midfielder

  • Jersey Number: 7

  • Professional Debut: 1971

Martin O’Neill Date of Birth and Personal Info

  • Date of Birth: 1 March 1952

  • Birth Place: Kilrea, Northern Ireland

  • Zodiac Sign: Pisces

  • Nationality: Northern Irish

In this section of

Martin O’Neill biography

stay tuned as we want to share some information about

Martin O’Neill childhood

and more.

Martin O’Neill Early Life

Born in 1952 to a working-class Irish nationalist family, O'Neill was the fourth child of the family had four brothers and four sisters. His father and brothers were involved in Gaelic football: Martin's father played for local club Padraig Pierce Kilria, and his brothers (Martin's uncles) Gerry and Leo also played for Kilria and for the Derry team, where they won the 1958 Ulster Championship and reached the All-Ireland final in the same year. Martin went on to play for Kilreath and Derry at youth level, subsequently playing Gaelic football at St Columba's College in Derry and St Malachy's College in Belfast.

At St Malachy's College, he began playing for local football club Distillery, thus violating the Gaelic Athletic Association's ban (in force until 1971) on Gaelic players being involved in "foreign sports". By the time St Malachy's reached the final of the Macrory Cup in 1970, the Gaelic Athletic Association's governing body, the Gaelic Athletic Association, decided to ban Gaelic footballers from playing in "foreign" sports.

In 1970, the Antrim County Gaelic Association governing body banned the match from being played at Casement Park in Belfast. Following an agreement between the colleges taking part in the tournament, the ground for the final was moved to County Tyrone and St Malachy's went on to play in the final, which they won. The controversial situation boosted O'Neill's reputation.

He won the

Northern Ireland

Cup with the Distillery in 1971, scoring two goals in the final match. He scored a goal against Barcelona in the Cup Winners' Cup match in September 1971, where his club lost 3-1. During that period, he was spotted by Nottingham Forest scouts, and Martin transferred to Nottingham Forest in 1971 after leaving the Distillery and never completing his law studies at Queens University in Belfast.

Before he played for the Distillery in the Irish League, O'Neill had already played for small club Rosario in South Belfast. After joining

Nottingham Forest

, Martin failed to demonstrate an outstanding game. It was until the legendary coach Brian Clough in 1975 arrived at the club, who made O'Neill a key player in the midfield of the Reds. O'Neill was a key player in Nottingham Forest's golden era at the club, which saw the team reach the top division, win the First Division, two League Cups and two European Champions Cups.

After spending ten years at Nottingham Forest, Martin joined Norwich City in 1981. In five seasons, he had spells with Manchester City, Notts County, Chesterfield and Fulham, where he decided to end his 14-year playing career.

In this section of

Martin O’Neill biography

stay tuned as we want to share some information about his career at the Northern Ireland national team.

Northern Ireland National Team

O'Neill also played for the Northern Ireland team. At the 1982 World Cup in


, he captained the team that beat tournament host Valencia. He played 4 games for the national team and scored eight goals. As captain of the Northern Ireland team, Martin was often booed by fans at Windsor Park because he was Catholic.

Martin O’Neill Profile

After retiring from active football, O'Neill became manager of Grantham Town in 1987 and was in charge until 1989, when he moved to Shepshed Charterhouse for a brief spell. Martin O’Neill then moved to

Wycombe Wanderers

on 1 August 1990, whose tenure lasted for five years (until 30 June 1995).

During his time with Wycombe Wanderers, there was a great rivalry between him and Roy McDonough, who was then the manager of Colchester United, as the two clubs battled it out in the 1991-92 season for the top spot in the Conference table and therefore the promotion to the League Three and Football League, a battle that would end in Colchester United's favour only on goal difference.

He coached

Norwich City

, where he had played as a player on 2 occasions, from 1 July 1995 until 17 December 1995, before becoming the head coach of Leicester City.

Leicester City

On 21 December 1995, he was appointed coach of

Leicester City

. His first match on Leicester City bench came on two days later in the away match against Grimsby Town, which ended in a 2-2 draw. His first win on Leicester City bench came on one month later from his appointment as the manager of the club, which they managed to defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers with a score of 3-2.

Towards the end of the season, Martin O’Niell’s team performance was getting better and better and in the last eight matches of the league season, Leicester City managed to win six matches. At the end of the 46th matchday of the Football League First Division, Leicester city finished 5th in the table, thus achieving promotion to the Premier League in June 1996 in the playoffs, where they eliminated Stoke City in the semifinals and Crystal Palace in the final and were promoted to the English Premier League.

The next season started for Martin and his team on 17 August 1996, where they played away against Sunderland and managed to get a goalless draw. Four days later against Southampton FC, the club clinched its first victory in the Premier League with a 2-1 win with two goals from Emile Heskey.

That season, Leicester City had a great campaign in the Premier League, defeating teams like Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn Rovers and

Aston Villa

, among others to finish in the 9th position, which was a good achievement for a newly promoted club.

That season, Leicester City played its first match in League Cup on 17 September 1996, beating Scarborough 0-2 away from home and               2-1 at home to win 4-1 on aggregate. In the next rounds, Leicester City and Martin O’Neill managed to eliminate the likes of York City, Manchester United, Ipswich Town and Wimbledon to make it to the final.

In the final match on 6 April 1997, they played against Middlesbrough FC. After 90 minutes, the match ended without a goal, so the match would be decided in the extra time. Five minutes into the first extra time, Fabrizio Ravanelli scored a goal to make it 1-0 for Middlesbrough. Martin O’Neill, who doesn’t want to lose the match, made two substitutions in the 105th and 108th minute, where Scott Dean Taylor and Mark Robins came into the pitch to replace Muzzy Izzet and Mike Whitlow.

These changes worked as Martin O’Neill wished for and 10 minutes later, Emile Heskey scored a goal for Leicester City in the 118th minute. With the match finished 1-1, the winner had to be decided on the final replay, which the two teams played 10 days later.

In that match, Leicester managed to win the match 1-0, with a goal from Stephan Claridge in the 100th minute. It was the first time in 33 years that Leicester City managed to win the League Cup and a great achievement for Martin during his first years in charge of the club.

Martin O’Neill started the 1997/98 season with two wins in English Premier League against Aston Villa and Liverpool. In the league, except for matchday 30 and 31, Leicester City was in the top half of the table and in the end, finished in the 10th position with 53 points in 38 matches.

In the FA Cup, they were eliminated with a 3-0 away defeat against

Crystal Palace

. As the title defenders in League Cup, Leicester City suffered a surprise defeat in their first match against Grimsby Town and was knocked out in the League Cup.

In the 1997/98 season, Leicester was back in the European competitions for the first time since the 1960s, however, they failed to win against Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the First Round of the UEFA Cup with a 4-1 defeat on aggregate.

The following season, Leicester City got a mixed start to the Premier League with three defeats and two draws in the first six matches. However, from 27 September to 11 November 1998, they went on an undefeated run in all competitions.

In the league, Martin O’Neill and Leicester City managed to repeat the previous season’s 10th position. Pundits and critics were all praising the head coach for his achievements in the club with such a limited budget.

In the League Cup, Leicester City, under the guidance of Martin O’Neill, once again managed to reach the final. In the final match which was played in Wembley Stadium on 21 March 1999, however, they were defeated against

Tottenham Hotspur

0-1, with a 90th-minute goal from Allan Nielsen.

During the 1999/2000 season, which was Martin O’Neill’s last in charge of the club, Leicester City finished 8th in the Premier League, which was their highest standing in the EPL in 24 years. In the League Cup, they once again reached the final and defeated Tranmere Rovers 2-1 to win the League Cup for the second time under Martin O’Neill.

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Finally, in 2000, O'Neill decided to leave Leicester and replace John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish as coach of Celtic Glasgow. There he immediately won the "triple" of Scottish Championship, Scottish FA Cup and Scottish League Cup and advanced with Celtic to the final of the UEFA Cup.

During his five years in charge, he won three league titles, three Scottish Cup trophies and one League Cup with Celtic Glasgow, bringing his tally to seven, equalling that of his main rival Alex McLeish of Glasgow Rangers. Following his departure, his old club Leicester City were twice relegated from the Premier League.

During his time in Glasgow, O'Neill was frequently linked with a possible coaching job in the Premier League in case of a vacancy. The surprise was even greater when he left Celtic at the end of the 2004/05 season - following the cup final against Dundee United - in order to spend time with his wife Geraldine, who was suffering from malignant lymphoma.

Rumours about O'Neill's new job began to grow in June 2006. The rumours were that he would become Guus Hiddink's successor as Australia's national team coach or Sven-Göran Eriksson's replacement as England coach. In the second case, Steve McClaren was made the English national team coach and O'Neill later expressed his regret that he had not been offered the job.

Both Newcastle United and Middlesbrough FC also made him a potential candidate for the respective vacancies, although in the case of Middlesbrough this failed because O'Neill was willing to work just four days a week. Then in August 2006, he was appointed by Aston Villa after working as a pundit for the BBC throughout the 2006

World Cup


Aston Villa

He then moved to Aston Villa on 4 August 2006 with which he achieved excellent results. The Northern Irishman and club legend of Nottingham Forest replaced David O'Leary. The previous season the club had finished sixteenth in the table and were two places clear of relegation. Bulgarian Stilijan Petrov, an offensive midfielder, joined the club from Celtic in the summer of 2006.

Dutch player Wilfred Bouma was the main right back. During the winter of 2007 several players left the club, among them Juan Pablo Ángel and Milan Baroš. Ángel, who scored 62 goals for the club in all competitions, moved to New York Red Bulls. This left the attacking compartment extremely weakened. O'Neill compensated for their departure with two recruits.

Ashley Young (Watford) and John Carew (Olympique Lyon) started playing at Villa Park in January, Carew was involved in a swap deal with Baroš, who would now play for Lyon. Gabriel Agbonlahor broke through as a striker and scored nine times in the league.

During the 2006/07 season, the club finished 11th in the table, was knocked out of FA Cup in their first match against Manchester United, with a score of 2-1 and in League Cup, they made it to the Round of 16 before being eliminated against Chelsea (4-0).

At the end of the 2007-08 season, Aston Villa was ranked sixth in the

Premier League

and won the chance to participate in the 2008 Intertoto Cup. The season's top scorer was John Carew with 13 goals. Although the club’s performance in the league was great, in FA Cup and League Cup Martin O’Neill failed to achieve good results and Aston Villa was knocked out in both competitions early.

Aston Villa kicked off the season by taking part in the 2008 Intertoto Cup, beating Odense first and thus qualifying for the 2008-2009 UEFA Cup, where they defeated first FH and then Litex Loveč. They played their first league match against Manchester City, winning four to two. They were defeated by Queens Park Rangers on 24 September and were knocked out of the 2008-2009 Football League Cup.

They made it through the UEFA Cup qualifying round, finishing third in the group, having won against Ajax and Slavia Prague, but defeated by Žilina and Hamburg. On 15 November, they achieved an important two-nil win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The club made it through to the 2008-09 FA Cup round under O'Neill on 4 January with a two-to-one win over Gillingham.

It was Everton who ended the Villans' FA Cup adventure, with the Toffees winning 3-1 at Goodison Park. In the league, the team from Birmingham was involved for a long time in the fight for a place in the

Champions League

of 2009-2010 but was overtaken by Arsenal. The club was unable to improve on their sixth-place finish of the previous season, but still gained direct access to the 2009-2010 Europa League.

At the beginning of the 2009/10 season, Aston Villa lost at home to Wigan Athletic 2-0. However, on the second matchday, a quick redemption was achieved with a 3-1 victory at Anfield against Liverpool.

The Villans' participation in the Europa League was not very satisfying and they were knocked out in the play-offs. In fact, Aston Villa was beaten 1-0 in Vienna by Rapid. In the second leg, Martin O'Neill's team could not go further than a 2-1 victory, which meant they were eliminated.

He resigned as manager of the club on 10 August 2010 because of disagreements with the management, and also because he failed to qualify for the Europa League for the second year in a row against the same team, Rapid Vienna.

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Sunderland signed Martin O'Neill on 2 November 2011 to replace the sacked Steve Bruce for €2.5 million. Sunderland (as well as Celtic he coached in the past) was the team he supported during his childhood.

In his first match as the coach of Sunderland, he managed to win 2-1 against Blackburn at home. He continued his good performances as the new head coach of the club, by winning five of their eight league matches. He saved the club at the end of the year by finishing 13th in the table, but the following year he was sacked on 30 March 2013 and was replaced by Paolo Di Canio with the club 16th on the table.

Ireland National Team

He took over as coach of the Irish national team on 5 November 2013, thereby becoming the third foreign coach in the Greens' history after Jack Charlton and his predecessor Giovanni Trapattoni, and also the first Northern Irishman, with former Irish star Roy Keane as his assistant.

As manager of Ireland in the European qualifying round, he finished third behind Germany (with whom he surprisingly drew 1-1 away and won 1-0 at home) and Poland, and qualified for the play-offs. The team started in the play-off from the second tier, drawing Bosnia-Herzegovina. They drew 1-1 with the Bosnians in the first leg in Zenica before winning the return leg 2-0 to qualify for Euro 2016.

Together with the team, they reached the round of 16 for the first time during Euro 2016 by beating Italy on 22 June 1-0, demonstrating themselves as one of the best third-placed sides in the tournament (finishing behind Italy itself and Belgium and ahead of Sweden), however, the dream ended against host France, who won 2-1 over the Irish.

In the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Ireland ended up in a tough group with Serbia, Wales and Austria, and also weaker teams Georgia and Moldova; the Greens were able to finish second in the group, winning 4 points against Wales, Austria and Moldova, 6 points against Georgia and 1 point against Serbia (the only team they lost to), with Ireland having a better away record than at home as Ireland scored 11 of their 19 points away from home.

They finished second in the last round with a 1-0 away win against Wales on 9 October 2017. Nevertheless, in the play-off, Ireland (once again in the second tier) drew 0-0 in the first leg on an away match against


, but on the second leg (after taking a 1-0 lead with a goal from Shane Duffy) Ireland heavily defeated 1-5 in Dublin.

Although he was widely criticized after the defeat, he did not resign, only to postpone the decision for a year until 21 November 2018 (at which time his assistant Roy Keane had also resigned) in the wake of a disastrous Nations League in which Ireland came in behind Wales and Denmark with 2 points totals (both 0-0 against Denmark both away and at home) and relegating to League C.

Nottingham Forest

He was appointed as the new coach of Nottingham Forest on 15 January 2019, to replace the resigning Aitor Karanka, heading to coach a club for the second time (after Norwich City) where he played as a footballer and was instrumental in the club's successes in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite finishing ninth, he was sacked by the club at the end of the year following disagreements with some of the players.

Style of Play

Martin O’Neill is a fan of 4-2-3-1 and during his spells with different teams he has coached so far, we have seen his teams play with that system. However, during his last coaching job at Nottingham Forest, the Northern Irish head coach played with a 3-5-2 system in some matches.


Many football fans and critics consider Martin O’Neill to be one of the greatest football players and head coaches in the history of Northern Ireland football, who has proved his great coaching skills in the English Premier League, Scottish Premiership and also the Republic of Ireland national team.

Martin O’Neill outside Football

In addition to football, O'Neill is also passionate about criminology. He has attended some high-profile trials in Britain, including the hearings of the Yorkshire Ripper and Rosemary West. His interest in forensic science began for O'Neill in 1961, during the James Henratty trial.

In 2004 Martin O'Neill was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to sport. He was also included in the Norwich City Football Club Hall of Fame in 2002 by a vote of the team's fans.

Martin O’Neill Personal Life

In this section of Martin O’Neill biography, we will take a look into his personal life and share some info about

Martin O’Neill life story


Martin O’Neill religion


Family, Children and Relationships

Together with his wife Geraldine, Martin O'Neill lives in Oxfordshire and has two daughters, Aisling and Alana.


Martin O'Neill is one of the most famous names among British sportspeople when it comes to charity projects. He has managed many charity teams during his career and also attends fundraisers to help children hospitals.

Legal Issues

So far, there are no reports of any legal issues regarding Martin O'Neill in the media.

Martin O’Neill Career Statistics

In this section of Martin O’Neill biography, we will take a look at his career stats on the international and club level.


During his playing career at the club level, he has played a total of 435 league matches and scored 68 goals. As one of the legends of Nottingham Forest, he has spent most of his career in the team.


During his 13 years of service at the Northern Ireland national team, he made a total of 64 appearances and scored 8 goals. He has scored two of his national goals against Scotland, in the 1973 and 1978 editions of the British Home Championship.


Having coached his teams in a total of 967 matches as of 5 May 2019, he has a win ratio of 50.4 percent with 487 wins, 239 draws and 241 defeats.

Martin O’Neill Honors

As a player, he has won many titles and awards, including the Irish Cup with Distillery, Football League First Division, Football League Cup, FA Charity Shield, European Cup, European Super Cup and Anglo-Scottish Cup with Nottingham Forest. He has also won the British Home Championship with Northern Ireland on two occasions.

He also has many awards and titles as a coach, which the most notable of them includes Football League Cup, Scottish Premier League, Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup.

His notable personal awards include LMA Football League First Division Manager of Year, SFWA Manager of the Year and the Scottish Premier League Manager of the Year.

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