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O’NEILL PLOTS RETURN – AT 69

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CELTIC legend Martin O’Neill is preparing to make a managerial comeback – at the age of 69.

The one-time Hoops’ fans’ favourite has been out of football for two years since being sacked at Championship club Nottingham Forest.

O’Neill, though, is poised to put a shambolic five-month stint at the City Ground behind him to return to the dug-out and accept fresh challenges.

The veteran gaffer, who has also managed Wycome Wanders, Norwich City, Leicester City, Aston Villa and Sunderland as well as the Republic of Ireland international team, was quoted in a report in The Sun, as saying: “I probably have hidden behind this pandemic and taken a break.

“But I don’t think you ever lose your enthusiasm for it. That enthusiasm I had for Gaelic football and football hasn’t really left, so I will have a little look at these things and see what develops.

“But I haven’t exactly gone into a cave yet, although who knows?”

O’Neill arrived at Parkhead in the summer of 2000 following the failed experiment of the so-called ‘Dream Team’ of Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes. The former England international star was fired after only eight months into his first managerial post following the unacceptable Scottish Cup exit against Inverness Caley Thistle.

The Northern Irishman won the treble in his debut campaign, added four more domestic honours and led the side to the UEFA Cup Final in Seville in 2003 when the 10-men Hoops – minus the banished Bobo Balde – lost 3-2 in extra-time to Jose Mourinho’s Porto.

Since leaving Forest in 2019, O’Neill has worked as a TV pundit and has even covered various Celtic games for Sky Sports this season.

However, he ruled himself out of a possible return to Glasgow following Neil Lennon’s exit in February.

O’Neill added: “I’ve had a great time here, but my time is gone. The torch has been passed and it’s up to other people now.”

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