Portadown-born Michael O’Neill completed a memorable 2015 by being crowned Coach of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards last night.
O’Neill guided Northern Ireland to a first-ever European Championship – 30 years on from the nation’s last appearance in a major finals.
The team won six and lost one of their 10 qualifying games to top their group, and will now play Poland, Ukraine and World champions Germany at next summer’s Euro finals in France.
Last night O’Neill was presented with his award by Portrush golfing star Graeme McDowell and Olympic gold medal winner Denise Lewis.
The award success came 24 hours after O’Neill was named RTÉ Sport Manager of the Year.
“To be here on this stage as the manager of my country and to be going to France is very special for me,” O’Neill told the 7,500-strong crowd at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
“I would like to congratulate all the other nominees. There are some fantastic coaches here in this room, so it is very humbling to get the award.”