Stoke City’s Northern Irish connection

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Michael O’Neill has been unveiled as the new manager for Stoke City football club.

He will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor as Northern Ireland manager and former international teammate, Nigel Worthington, who played 12 games for the Potters in the 1990s towards the end of his career. Worthington played at the 1986 World cup and is the cousin of Leicester manager, Brendan Rodgers.

Gerry Taggart was a courageous centre half for the Potters in the mid-2000s and Alec Elder was also a Northern Ireland defender who played for Stoke in the late 1960s, having previously won a First Division championship with Burnley in 1960.

Joining Elder on that Burnley team was one of Northern Ireland’s most famous players, Jimmy McIlroy. He played with Northern Ireland at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden and joined Stoke in 1963, helping them to win the old Second Division and gain promotion in a team containing the great Stanley Matthews, Munich air disaster survivor Denis Violet and Don Radcliffe.

Sammy McIlroy played for Stoke between 1982 and 1985 and picked up the player of the year award in the relegation season from the first division in 1985 before joining Manchester City. McIlroy won an FA Cup medal with Manchester United in 1977 and scored the dramatic equaliser in the 1979 final against Arsenal before Alan Sunderland grabbed a winner for the Gunners at the death. He played at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups for Northern Ireland.

Gerry McMahon played for Stoke in the 1990s and Tunstall born Martin Paterson started his career with the Potters before establishing himself with the re-emergence of Burnley in the early 2010s.  He also played under O’Neill for Northern Ireland.

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