Martin O'Neill has become the new manager of the Republic of Ireland, with Roy Keane his assistant, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) confirmed Tuesday. The FAI, on their official Twitter feed, said the duo would be in charge for next month's friendly at home to Latvia. It is understood the duo have both signed initial two-year contracts with the FAI.
"O'Neill & Keane's 1st game leading Ireland will be v Latvia in @AVIVAStadium Fri Nov 15," the tweet said.
"Roy's coming with me, personally speaking he will be great for me and it will be great for Ireland," former Northern Ireland midfielder O'Neill told ITV Sport on Tuesday while working for the broadcaster as a Champions League pundit. O'Neill, in a jokey reference to Keane's fiery temper, said: "I'm the bad cop and he (Keane) is the bad, bad cop. We are excited by it and I'm looking forward to it greatly."
"It's fantastic news, I'm delighted and honoured Martin has asked me to work with him," Keane added. "I'm looking forward to working with the players and getting the team to the (2016) Euros."
Back in 2002, Keane criticised then-FAI treasurer John Delaney, now the governing body's chief executive, following his walkout at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™. But earlier Tuesday, Delaney said events in Saipan would be no bar to his working with Keane and he also stressed how the former Manchester United captain had been O'Neill's choice.
"I was very taken by him (Keane)," Delaney told Sky Sports. "He wants to come. He's been a great footballer. Martin wants him to be his assistant. He was Martin's choice. I come from a school where the manager chooses his backroom team. People need to draw a line in the sand. It's gone. Saipan was 11, 12 years ago. Now is the time to stop talking about it."
Since Giovanni Trapattoni left in September the Republic have been without a full-time manager. Former Celtic and Aston Villa manager O'Neill, out of football since being sacked by English Premier League strugglers Sunderland in March, soon emerged as a likely replacement for the veteran Italian.
Trapattoni took his side to UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, only for the Republic to be beaten by Croatia, Spain and Italy as they returned home without a single point. He then began trying to take the Republic to the next World Cup but a 6-1 thrashing by Germany nearly a year ago was one of several results that meant they missed out on a place at Brazil 2014.
O'Neill and Keane's first competitive match in charge of Ireland won't be until September next year when qualifying for EURO 2016 is due to start.