O'Neill and Keane to lead Ireland

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have become the Republic of Ireland's managerial dream team.

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Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane will le

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane will le

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have been confirmed as the Republic of Ireland's new managerial dream team.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) on Tuesday night announced the 61-year-old Ulsterman and the 42-year-old former Manchester United and Ireland skipper had signed contracts which Press Association Sport understands run for an initial two-year period.

The news came hours after FAI chief executive John Delaney confirmed that the appointments were imminent. The pair are due to begin work at their Malahide training base on Monday.

The FAI confirmed the duo would be in charge for next month's friendly against Latvia. But their task in the long term is to lead the nation to the finals of Euro 2016, the qualifying tournament for which gets under way in September next year.

A statement read: "The Football Association of Ireland this evening (November 5) confirmed that Martin O'Neill will be Ireland's next manager, taking up the position when the Irish team meets up on the evening of November 11 to prepare for two friendly matches against Latvia (Aviva Stadium, Nov 15) and Poland (Poznan, Nov 19)."

O'Neill and Keane, who were on duty as ITV pundits at Tuesday night's Champions League clash between Real Sociedad and Manchester United, expressed their delight before the game.

Asked if it was a marriage made in heaven, O'Neill said with a smile: "Well, I think I'm the bad cop and he's the bad, bad cop.

"We're excited by it. It looks like we've something to go with. I'm looking forward to it greatly."

Keane added: "It's fantastic news. I'm honoured that Martin has asked me to come and help him with the team.

"I'm very excited - I might not look it, but I am. I look forward to working with the players and trying to get to the Euros."

FAI President Paddy McCaul said in a statement: "This is a great appointment for Irish football. Martin was the board's preferred candidate from the outset and to have someone of the calibre of Roy Keane as his assistant manager is a real plus.

"I wish them every success for the coming campaign."

Delaney added: "Today, the FAI board is appointing two Irish legends as manager and assistant manager of our national team and I wish them every success in their roles.

"Martin and Roy will have the next 10 months to prepare and shape the squad for the challenge of Euro 2016 qualification which starts in September 2014."

O'Neill is expected to be formally unveiled at a press conference on Saturday after opting to resume his career on the international stage a little more than seven months after parting company with last club Sunderland.

He sprang something of a surprise when it emerged that he had sounded out former Black Cats and Ipswich boss Keane about playing a part, but a partnership which will certainly capture the imagination of the Republic's fans has now become a reality.

Asked why he had chosen Keane, he joked: "I've asked myself that many a time over the last 48 hours.

"He's coming with me. Personally speaking, I think he'll be great for me, but more importantly, he'll be great for the Republic of Ireland."

O'Neill was swiftly identified as the man the FAI wanted to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni following the 74-year-old Italian's exit after five and a half years at the helm in September, and he mulled over his decision at length with a series of Barclays Premier League clubs having courted him in the meantime.

Keane was initially considered a potential rival for the vacancy along with former boss Mick McCarthy, despite the bust-up between the two in Saipan before the 2002 World Cup finals.

However, when O'Neill enquired about the possibility of bringing the former Manchester United skipper back into the fold, he found there was a willingness to embrace the proposal.


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