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O'Neill answers Villa's call

Published: Friday 4 August 2006, 20.45CET
Former Celtic FC boss Martin O'Neill is back in football after taking charge at Aston Villa FC despite uncertainty over the Premiership club's ownership. features

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Published: Friday 4 August 2006, 20.45CET

O'Neill answers Villa's call

Former Celtic FC boss Martin O'Neill is back in football after taking charge at Aston Villa FC despite uncertainty over the Premiership club's ownership.

Aston Villa FC have named Martin O'Neill as their new manager. It is O'Neill's first job since he stepped down from the Celtic FC helm in May 2005 and his arrival is a real coup for Villa, who were without a manager since David O'Leary's departure by mutual consent two weeks ago.

'Mighty club'
"Aston Villa is a mighty football club and this is a fantastic challenge for me," O'Neill said. "I've greatly missed not being involved in the game and there have not been many days over the last 15 months that I have not given a lot of thought to it. On a personal note it's absolutely fantastic to be back."

"It's 25 years since this club lifted the European Cup on the back of winning the League Championship and that's the sort of success Villa's fans were used to. We're a long way from that at the moment, but while those heady days may not come again, that's the dream, and why not?"

Takeover speculation
Villa are the subject of intense takeover speculation but all the parties interested in buying into the Birmingham club have stated that the 54-year-old O'Neill is their first choice to improve the fortunes of a team who were involved in a battle for Premiership survival last season. O'Neill, who was linked with the England post before the FIFA World Cup, has been out of the game for 15 months, taking care of his seriously ill wife Geraldine.

Sustained success
O'Neill was a European Champion Clubs' Cup winner as a player under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest FC, and has also enjoyed success as a coach since first coming to prominence with Wycombe Wanderers FC and Leicester City FC. The former Northern Irish international led Leicester to English League Cup glory in 1997 and 2000 then joined Celtic at the end of the latter campaign. He steered the Glasgow side to a period of sustained ascendancy at home and in Europe.

Glory years
In his first term, Celtic claimed the domestic treble, a Premier League title followed in 2002, before O'Neill guided his team to the 2003 UEFA Cup final which they lost 3-2 to José Mourinho's FC Porto. The double was secured in 2003/04 before he signed off with the Scottish Cup in May 2005. O'Neill will fly to Hanover on Saturday to meet up with the Villa squad at the start of their three-match tour of Germany and Holland.

Last updated: 06/08/06 18.56CET

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