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Monday 14 Aug 2023
Gareth McAuley is new Northern Ireland U19s manager

The Irish Football Association has appointed Gareth McAuley as the new manager of the Northern Ireland Under-19 men’s team.

McAuley, who made 80 appearances for Northern Ireland during an international playing career that spanned 14 years, previously worked as a coach with the Northern Ireland U17 and U19 age groups after retiring from the game in September 2019.

A no-nonsense central defender in his playing days, the 43-year-old is keen to get started in the new role.

He said: “Everyone knows I loved playing for Northern Ireland. It meant the world to me to pull on that jersey. It’s no different now that I am on the coaching side of things. I will give it my all. This is my first job as a manager/head coach and, naturally, I want to succeed in the role.”

Northern Ireland is hosting the UEFA U19 European Championship next year and it will be the new manager’s task to prepare the U19 squad for that final tournament.

He said: “Hosting the U19 Euros will be fantastic for Northern Ireland. Football fans here will get to see some of the best young players in Europe in action, while our players will get the opportunity to play against them.

“As the host nation we qualify automatically so we will be arranging friendlies and training camps in preparation for the U19 Euros, starting with a friendly game against Italy in Tuscany on 7 September.

“There’s also an invitational tournament in Northern Ireland this November. Portugal, Poland and Hungary have kindly agreed to take part in that mini tournament.”

Everyone knows I loved playing for Northern Ireland. It meant the world to me to pull on that jersey. It’s no different now that I am on the coaching side of things. I will give it my all

McAuley won an Irish Youth Cup with Linfield and progressed to their first team in the early part of his playing career, although he did not play for the Blues’ senior team. During his time with Linfield he had a loan spell with Ballyclare Comrades.


In 2000 he switched to Crusaders, for whom he made 64 appearances, and two years later he moved to Coleraine (63 appearances), winning the Irish Cup with the Bannsiders in 2003.

From there, at the age of 24, he headed to England – where he signed his first full-time professional contract with Lincoln City.

He stayed in League Two with Lincoln for two years (84 appearances) before switching to Leicester City in the Championship. He played for the Foxes for two seasons (84 appearances) before joining Ipswich Town at the start of the 2009-09 season.

After three years in the Championship with Ipswich (115 matches) he fulfilled his ambition to play in the Premier League when switching to West Bromwich Albion.

He played in the top flight for the Baggies from July 2011 to June 2018, making 203 appearances in total and scoring 15 goals. He also had a brief spell with Rangers in Scotland at the end of his playing career.

McAuley, who famously found the back of the net at UEFA Euro 2016 in a 2-0 victory over Ukraine in Lyon, first played for Northern Ireland in 2005 and wore the green jersey with pride until 2018. He scored nine goals as he earned his 80 senior caps.

He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2019 New Year’s Honours for services to football in Northern Ireland.