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Friday 11 Aug 2023
Tommy Wright appointed manager of Northern Ireland U21s

Tommy Wright has been appointed as the manager of Northern Ireland’s Under-21 men’s team.

The former St Johnstone boss will be in charge of the team during their U21 Euro 2025 qualification campaign, which gets under way next month.

Wright (59) brings a vast amount of experience to the role. He won 31 caps for Northern Ireland during a playing career that spanned over 20 years and subsequently has had a lengthy career in coaching and management.

Since hanging up his goalkeeping gloves he has been a coach and manager at several clubs across the UK and Ireland, including a spell as goalkeeping coach for the Northern Ireland senior men’s team between 2012 and 2013 when he worked under current Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill.

He coached at Norwich City and then Ballyclare Comrades in his home town before making his first move into management at Limavady United in November 2003. He then managed Ballymena United from May 2005 until April 2008.

His next role was as goalkeeping coach with Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland for their 2009 league campaign.

In September 2009 he was appointed manager of Lisburn Distillery. He stayed with the Whites for just over two seasons, guiding them to League Cup glory in 2010-2011.

He first joined Scottish top flight side St Johnstone as assistant manager in November 2011. He was promoted to manager in June 2013, and that prompted him to step away from the Northern Ireland set-up.


Wright was subsequently in charge of the Saints until May 2020. During his time at McDiarmid Park he guided the club to their first major trophy: the Scottish Cup, which they won in 2014 after defeating Tayside rivals Dundee United in the final.

He was voted Scottish Premiership manager of the season in 2015-16 after leading Perth-based St Johnstone to a fourth-place finish in the league in consecutive seasons. And the Saints also qualified for Europe the following season, too.

His most recent spell as a manager was also in the Scottish Premiership. He was in charge of Kilmarnock for most of 2021.

In his playing days Wright was a netminder with both Brantwood and Linfield before he joined Newcastle United where he made 73 appearances between 1988 and 1993. He also went out on loan to Hull City during his time with Newcastle.

He was on Nottingham Forest’s books between 1993 and 1997. He made 11 appearances for Forest and also had loan spells with Reading (17 matches) and Manchester City (five games in first team) during his time at the City Ground.

A permanent move to Manchester City followed. He played 29 times for City between 1997 and 2001. He also had loan spells with Wrexham (16 games), Newcastle (three matches) and Bolton Wanderers (four games) during that period. He signed a permanent deal with Bolton in 2001 but did not make any first team appearances.

Northern Ireland’s U21s have been drawn in Group F for the UEFA U21 Euro 2025 qualifying series along with top seeds England, Ukraine, Serbia, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.

They are set to face Luxembourg at home in the opening match of their qualification campaign. It will be played at Lurgan’s Mourneview Park on Thursday 7 September (2pm kick-off). Game two will see them come up against second seeds Ukraine away on Tuesday 12 September. That game will be played in Slovakia.