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Ex-boss Lawrie Sanchez wants Northern Ireland return

Lawrie Sanchez
Lawrie Sanchez left the Northern Ireland job to manage Fulham

Lawrie Sanchez has said that he would welcome the chance to manage Northern Ireland again if present boss Nigel Worthington fails to agree a new deal.

Worthington is currently in talks with the Irish Football Association.

"Nigel seems to be playing a bit of hardball with the IFA and he's a brave man having finished fourth in the World Cup qualifying group," said Sanchez.

"If the job became available I would certainly be interested as I'd like to finish off what I started," he added.

Sanchez succeeded Sammy McIlroy as Northern Ireland boss in January 2004 and his side led their Euro 2008 qualifying group when he left to manage Premiership outfit Fulham in May 2007.

During his tenure Northern Ireland enjoyed famous victories over England, Sweden and Spain.

"I have been out of action for a couple of years now but I would still like to manage again and I believe I can do a good job at a high level, be that at international level or high club level.

The fact that I left Northern Ireland at the time that I did is the one major regret of my managerial career

Lawrie Sanchez

"I don't want to compromise on that too much, that's what I'm still hoping to do," said the former Wimbledon midfielder.

"The fact that I left Northern Ireland at the time that I did is the one major regret of my managerial career.

"I know I wasn't forceful enough to say no, to say that I wanted to stay on as Northern Ireland manager until the end of that qualifying campaign at least.

"I believe we would have qualified but I guess I wondered about how it would have been received by the IFA and the media in Northern Ireland if we had got so close and then failed and my contract was about to run out.

"I had to really make a really tough decision and after I left I still kind of watched the Northern Ireland games as if I was manager.

"I was as disappointed as anyone that they didn't make it.

"Nigel was given the job on a slightly larger contract than I was on and I'm surprised that finishing fourth in the World Cup campaign is regarded as quite good or acceptable.

"If I'd finished fourth I don't think I'd have been offered a new contract, never mind holding out for a better one."

Sanchez added that he was "watching the Northern Ireland situation with interest".

"I loved my time with Northern Ireland and I'd like to finish off what I started.

"What I did during my time as Northern Ireland manager is self-evident, in taking the team from where they were to where they are now.

"The team is probably even better now than when I left it and Northern Ireland fans are the best I have ever worked with."

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see also
Worthington hits out at NI talks leak
14 Dec 09 |  Football
Worthington keen on Sheff Wed job
14 Dec 09 |  Sheff Wed
Worthington NI future 'in doubt'
11 Dec 09 |  Internationals
Sanchez quits NI for Fulham post
11 May 07 |  Fulham
Sanchez upbeat on N Ireland hopes
07 Nov 07 |  Internationals

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