By Rebecca Hawksworth

UCFB Etihad Campus recently welcomed Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill to speak to students about the world of coaching and football management.

With UCFB’s three coaching degree programmes – BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management, BA (Hons) Sports Business & Coaching and BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Talent Development – among its most popular, O’Neill shared some valuable advice for those trying to break into the coaching and management industry.

He told students: “I think the biggest advice I could give as a person who’s been in the game would be to be open-minded and be perseverant as well. Learn a lot about the tolerance of players and learn a lot about how to manage the players, and how to manage them on a personal level as well. Trust your staff and get good people around you and trust them and empower them.”

O’Neill, whose playing career took him around the British Isles, racking up appearances for Newcastle United, Dundee United, Hibernian, Wigan Athletic and Glentoran, went on to explain why it’s important for coaches to receive formal education and the benefits that it can provide.

ONeill spoke to students at UCFB Etihad Campus.

He said: “I think the opportunities for players now are fantastic in terms of their avenues to education. I think formal education does help you, particularly in management, because you’re not just dealing with players, you’re dealing with people on your board, you’re dealing with media, you’re dealing with sponsors.

“I think any skills that you can add to yourself, whether through formal education or post-education, can only be a benefit.”

Giving his thoughts on UCFB – which offers a wide range of unique football and sports related degree programmes that can’t be studied at other institutions – the former Shamrock Rovers manager said: “I think it’s an amazing opportunity. When I was studying for my A Levels and thinking about what I was going to study at university, before I was transferred to Newcastle United, this is certainly a place that I would have jumped to be at.”

He added: “There’s so much opportunity for people in football now who don’t necessarily have a playing background. There are so many jobs whether it is in the media, in the structure of the club or an association, and the skills that these courses will provide and the exposure that they will provide as well will hopefully be an inspiration to the people that study here.”