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The BBC's Emma Simpson
"Can he succeed where others have failed?"
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BBC Scotland's Kheredine Idessane
"Martin O'Neill said it took him two seconds to say yes to Celtic"
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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
O'Neill unveiled as Celtic boss
Parkhead doors
O'Neill finally walked through the Celtic Park doors
Celtic have unveiled Martin O'Neill as their new manager after days of deliberation and negotiations.

The move was confirmed by the Stock Exchange shortly after 1730BST on Thursday.

And the former Leicester City boss was introduced to the waiting media at a press conference at Celtic Park at 1805BST.

O'Neill initially hinted that he would be leaving the Midlands club on Monday, but an official announcement was delayed, with Celtic supporters anxiously awaiting a final decision.

Martin O'Neill
O'Neill: Dream job
Leicester chairman John Elsom held further talks with O'Neill in a last-ditch attempt to keep him, but it appears the lure of the challenge at Celtic Park was too great and a three-year contract was signed.

O'Neill told the media he was "absolutely delighted" to be made manager of Celtic.

"It seems it has taken a long time to get here. It is a fantastic opportunity for myself. It gives me a chance to explore a dream," he said.

"This is a massive football club. I have been very impressed with the place. I am amazed at the stadium. It has a fantastic supporter base. It needs a team to go with it and that is my responsibility."

Agonising decision

The Ulsterman described the job as one that was very close to his heart, but added that he had agonised over leaving Leicester.

He said: "I had two decisions to make. One was to leave Leicester, a fantastic club where I had a great time and we enjoyed a lot of success. That wasn't an overnight thought.

"But the other decision, to join Celtic, took two seconds."

The stumbling block in negotiations was reportedly the level of compensation to be paid by Celtic to Leicester.

Allan MacDonald: Got his man
Leicester wanted the 1m written in to O'Neill's contract, but Celtic appeared reluctant to pay that.

Club chief executive Allan MacDonald said talks to finalise compensation with Leicester were ongoing.

"We have said we will work with Leicester. We have got a team down there currently discussing with Leicester to demonstrate our good faith," he said.

"We don't want it to be a legal matter - we want to discuss it in good faith."

Carte blanche

Asked about the future of interim manager, Kenny Dalglish, O'Neill revealed he had been given carte blanche to do as he saw fit, but that no decisions would be taken until talks had taken place.

"I haven't spoken to Kenny Dalglish at all. I only signed the contract 15 minutes ago," said O'Neill.

"I will not be doing anything until I have sat down with everyone.

"I want to be manager. I am going to be in charge. My neck is on the block, but more importantly I want to be successful.

"There was no point in my identifying things until I got installed. I have seen a number of games, some bad and some good.

Kenny Dalglish: Future is uncertain
"There is no better way to get to know your players than to work with them.

"There are areas that I think I want to improve. I want to have the pleasure of working with some of the talented players who work here."

Asked if he could work with Dalglish he said: "Anything is possible."

"I will try to do things relatively quickly. I think I might get a little bit of time. But I know the pitfalls, I know the game. Rangers are the side to get past. I want to make in-roads into that as quickly as I can.

"There may be one or two Leicester fans disappointed to see me go. It was a decision I could not take lightly. I was part of the furniture at Leicester. The lure of Celtic was very great, very great indeed.

Hiddink negotiations

Asked about the negotiations which had taken place with Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who had been widely tipped to take over the post, Allan MacDonald said: "A number of discussions took place with all the candidates.

"What we were trying to identify was people with experience, desire and hunger to do the job.

"We identified four European coaches and two British coaches and we gradually narrowed it down to Martin. We decided Martin was the man to lead Celtic forward and that was a unanimous decision by the board."

O'Neill said he did not insist on a figure to spend: "I have never done that. I will try and spend as wisely as I can."

He added that he did not want any player to leave the club until he had the chance to talk to them all individually.

Australian Mark Viduka is being linked with a move away from Glasgow but O'Neill said: "I will sit down with the players. I will not be expecting anybody to leave this club until they come back at the end of the month."

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See also:

01 Jun 00 | Football
Celtic win O'Neill tussle
10 Feb 00 | Scotland
Celtic chief plans 'full review'
03 Mar 00 | Scotland
Caley facing 2m debt
10 Feb 00 | Scotland
Barnes forced out
09 Feb 00 | Scotland
Caley win amongst cup upset greats
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