ib

17 Nov 2022

IAN BARACLOUGH STATEMENT

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Irish Football Association for the opportunity to work as manager of the senior men’s national team.

“Whilst I am disappointed to be leaving my role, this special country has given me some memories I will never forget. From May 2017 to June 2020, I was privileged to lead the under-21s, finishing second in our qualifying group for the 2019 Euro Under-21s Championships, beating Spain and Iceland away from home along the way. While those results were unforgettable, what is most satisfying is seeing players from that group progress to play for the senior side, and to continue to develop at their clubs.

“To be appointed as the national team manager in June 2020 was one of the greatest moments of my professional career to date. My time at the helm was not without challenges; the COVID-19 pandemic, injuries to key players, and a squad in transition were all factors we had to accept and work with. I do think now that the squad are ready to take the next step on this journey and qualify for another major tournament.

“I take pride from the contribution my staff and I have made collectively, building on the work of Michael O’Neill and his colleagues, and handing over to the next person to lead this great nation. Managers are custodians, and the only certainty is that one day you will leave your role, but moments like the win over Bosnia and holding an exceptional Italy side to a draw will stay with me.

“I would like to thank the supporters who, after the difficulties of COVID-19, followed us in great numbers around Europe, and continued to make Windsor Park a difficult place for other nations to visit. I have made many friends and have enjoyed the famous warmth and hospitality of the people of Northern Ireland. The country will hold a special place in my heart and I will always look out for their results and will be a GAWA supporter for life.

“I would like to personally thank all of my staff at both senior and under-21 level who gave me their full commitment and professionalism throughout my time at the association. They are outstanding individuals and it has been a pleasure to work alongside them for the past five and a half years.

“A special mention should go to the group of players I have worked with over the past five and a half years. The experience of working with the young talent of Northern Ireland, through to the elite senior players has been a real joy and positive for me. I will take great pride in watching these young players develop into established internationals and having a great impact for Northern Ireland in future World Cups and Euros.

“I look forward to the next step of my coaching journey. I am energised and motivated to learn from this experience and to succeed in my next challenge.”