Jackie Fullerton: Michael O'Neill "deserves Freedom of Belfast" for leading Northern Ireland to Euro 2016

BBC Northern Ireland broadcasting legend gives his take on Euro 2016 qualification with Off The Ball

BY Raf Diallo 21:43 Tuesday 29 March 2016, 21:43 29 Mar 2016

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill ©INPHO/Presseye/Jonathan Porter

As Euro 2016 approaches, Northern Ireland's form will raise optimism for their fans as they made it 10 games unbeaten after beating Slovenia in a friendly yesterday night.

BBC Northern Ireland broadcasting legend Jackie Fullerton has been watching the team's progress keenly under Michael O'Neill's management as they qualified for the first major tournament in 30 years and was full of praise for the boss.

"This squad, truth be told, it's not dripping with quality or Premier League players but what Michael has done is remarkable. He should get the Freedom of Belfast," he told Off The Ball, acknowledging that qualifying from a Euro 2016 group including Germany, Poland and Ukraine will be tough and believes "personal pride from players" could see the North reach the knockout stage.

Northern Ireland's Conor Washington celebrates scoring ©INPHO/Presseye/Brian Little

Fullerton, who witness Northern Ireland's past campaigns at World Cups in 1958, 1982 and 1986, pointed to O'Neill's main quality.

"What he has done is he has instilled a team ethic. We have got three or four Premier League players, the rest are from the championship, so he has got a team. He doesn't have too many outstanding stars. We don't have many world class players at the moment but he's very technically astute and to think that after his first two years, I know that some people in the IFA thought 'well, he's not doing the job' and I know that the president of the IFA, he was one of the men who decided to stand by him," he said. 

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