James McClean lists five achievements of Martin O'Neill's in farewell message 1 month ago

James McClean lists five achievements of Martin O'Neill's in farewell message

"Thanks for everything, Gaffer."

James McClean enjoyed the form of his life under Martin O'Neill.

It wasn't just that the county Derry manager plucked McClean from the Sunderland reserves when he took over on Wearside and gave him his first opportunity in the Premier League, but it was then the same manager who saw McClean grow into his country's top goalscorer throughout an entire World Cup qualifying campaign.

McClean's been used on the left, on the right, he's been played up top, he's been played in a midfield three and he's been deployed at both left wing back and left full back under Martin O'Neill and he did it all with the same passion and enthusiasm you'd only expect.

McClean has always supported the manager and there are plenty of moments to look at in that viewpoint.

Ireland beat the world champions, Germany, in O'Neill's watch - probably the finest night in the Aviva Stadium.

The two performances against Bosnia were simply superb.

The Italy game is immortal. And the way we played against France - for most of the match - will warm the heart for a long time to come.

O'Neill then took Ireland to within an hour of their fourth ever World Cup. Shane Duffy's goal had the Republic 1-0 up in the tie against Denmark until the well-documented collapse followed.

In truth, had O'Neill walked away then, he'd have been remembered as one of the most successful managers in the country's history. The 5-1 defeat to Denmark could've been excused as a one-off and a man who went out on his shield, willing to try something to get his team through.

And O'Neill's record would've stacked up too.

Under him, Ireland beat teams ranked 2nd, 12th, 13th and 20th in the world in competitive games.

From 2002-2015, our best win was against a world number 33.

But, whilst the year that followed the Denmark game has tainted his record, James McClean appreciates the job his fellow county man has done.

In an Instagram message, McClean laid out the four things O'Neill has achieved with Ireland:

  • Beating Germany
  • Qualifying for the Euros
  • Beating Italy
  • Making it to the knockout stages for the first time ever
  • Getting to World Cup payoffs as fourth seeds

He wrote:

"Gutted to see the gaffer gone. Qualifying for euros beating Germany, last 16 at the euros, beating Italy, within one game of qualifying for world cup being 4th seeds... aye bad record...

"Thanks for everything gaffer."