Martin O'NEILL

Manchester City FC

Martin O'Neill - Manchester City FC - Biography of his football career at Man City.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 17 October 1981

Click on image to enlarge

      Saturday, 01 March 1952
      Kilrea, Northern Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Manchester City FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 29th August 1981 in a 2-1 win at home to West Bromwich Albion (Aged: 29)
    • Club Career
      12 League apps (+1 as sub), 0 goals
  • Norwich City FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1981, 1982-1983
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 28th February 1981 in a 3-1 win at home to Brighton & Hove Albion (Aged: 28)
    • Club Career
      (During two spells)
      65 League apps (+1 as sub), 12 goals
  • Nottingham Forest
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 13th November 1971 as a sub in a 4-1 win at home to West Bromwich Albion (scored) (Aged: 19)
    • Club Career
      264 League apps (+21 as sub), 48 goals
  • Notts County
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      August 1983
    • Club Career
      64 games 5 goals.
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Martin O'NEILL - Manchester City FC - Biography of his football career at Man City.


 Born on March 1st 1952 in Kilrea, Northern Ireland, Martin O'Neill signed for Manchester City in June 1981, manager John Bond paying his old club Norwich City £275, 000 for the talented midfield player as he looked to strengthen his squad to challenge for honours after the success of the 1980/81 season. He arrived with a wealth of experience under his belt, having previously spent ten years with Brian Clough's great Nottingham Forest side where he had picked up winner's medals in the European Cup, the League Championship and the League Cup, and had also earned 40 caps for Northern Ireland.

With a great deal of optimism around the club O'Neill made his debut in the opening game of the 1981/82 campaign, a 2-1 home victory over West Bromwich Albion earning City their first three points in what was the initial season of three points for a win. With only one defeat in the first six games, a 3-0 away reverse at Birmingham City, the Blues moved into fourth place in the table when Leeds United were on the receiving end of a 4-0 mauling at Maine Road, the midfield combination of O'Neill and Gerry Gow showing early signs of promise along with new striker Trevor Francis who had been brought in for £1.2 million. Progress was also made in the League Cup after a 2-2 aggregate draw with Stoke City in the second round led to a 9-8 win on penalties, the first time that a domestic match in England had been settled by this method.


There then followed a serious dip in form in October, when only one goal was scored in five games leading to a slump down to sixteenth place, and both O'Neill and Gow lost their places in the side. The team then recovered sufficiently over the next two months to be briefly at the top of the table over the Christmas period, but Martin had only managed to make a single league appearance in that time when he came in for the injured Tommy Caton in a 2-0 loss at Ipswich Town. It was becoming increasingly clear that he wasn't part of manager Bond's plans any longer, and an outing in a 1-1 home draw with Stoke City in early January turned out to be his last game for the club. His previous club Norwich City agreed a fee of £125, 000 for him to return to Carrow Road four weeks later, and he departed Maine Road having made just 16 league and cup appearances (including one as a substitute) in his eight months with the club.


After two years at Norwich, during which time he captained his country in the 1982 World Cup finals, he went on to play for Notts County where he eventually decided to call time on his playing career in 1985, being forced to retire from the game with a knee injury at the age of 33. He then made a living selling insurance but was tempted back into the game in 1987 when he took over as manager at non-league Grantham Town. After briefly taking over the reins at Shepshed Charterhouse he moved on to Conference side Wycombe Wanderers, guiding them into the football league in 1993, and from there he went on to even further managerial success at Norwich City, Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa as he became one of the most popular figures in the game. In 2004 his contribution to the game was recognised when he was awarded the OBE for services to sport. (David Redshaw)