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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 00:18 GMT
O'Neill becomes OBE
Martin O'Neill OBE
O'Neill is a firm favourite with Celtic fans
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill has been appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours.

The Northern Irishman has dedicated his award to the players and staff at Scottish champions Celtic.

O'Neill joined Celtic in summer 2000, won the Treble in his first season, and in May took the Bhoys to the Uefa Cup final, where they lost to Porto.

"This recognition belongs to all those who have made a contribution to that success," said O'Neill.

He added: "I am honoured to accept it on their behalf. As a club, Celtic has enjoyed success in the past few years, culminating in the appearance at the Uefa Cup final."

O'Neill has previously won a European Cup winner's medal as a player with Nottingham Forest and played in the 1982 World Cup finals with Northern Ireland.

But the 51-year-old former midfielder has earned even greater success in his managerial career.

He took non-league Wycombe Wanderers into the Football League in 1993 before guiding Leicester City to two League Cup wins and European competition.

O'Neill led Celtic to a domestic treble in his first season in charge, the springboard to their first appearance in the group stage of the Champions League.

The following campaign saw the league title successfully defended.

Martin's inspirational leadership has been a central factor in Celtic's success in recent years
Peter Lawwell
Celtic executive director
However, O'Neill ensured his place in Celtic folklore last season when he guided the team to their first major European final since 1970.

The Parkhead club were eventually defeated in extra time by Porto in the final after a run which saw Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart and Liverpool among the big names beaten on the way to Seville.

Celtic executive director Peter Lawwell maintains the OBE for O'Neill is thoroughly well deserved after great success for the club.

He added: "This is a further recognition of the tremendous contribution that Martin has made to Celtic and to Scottish football in general.

"His inspirational leadership has been a central factor in Celtic's success in recent years and, on behalf of the club, I would like to congratulate him on this honour."

Incredibly, Celtic have lost just seven league games since O'Neill arrived in Glasgow, and the club take an eight-point lead in the title race into January.

O'Neill, who signed a 12-month rolling contract at the beginning of 2003, is constantly being linked with a move back to the English Premiership.

His own trail may take another turn before the end of 2004 but O'Neill will always be revered in the east end of Glasgow.

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