UCFB is delighted to announce that Harry Redknapp and Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill will be the first Executive Guest Speakers of 2018.

Former Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham manager Redknapp, and Portadown’s O’Neill will appear at UCFB Wembley and UCFB Etihad Campus respectively on Wednesday 7th February.

Harry Redknapp

Affectionately known as Harry Houdini to some, Redknapp has been a constant figure in English football since the mid-1960s. His playing career began at West Ham United, where he played for eight years with the likes of Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. Redknapp then went on to play over 100 times for AFC Bournemouth, before retiring from playing in 1982 after a short spell playing in America.

His first management role came at the south-coast club in 1983, where he stayed for nine years. His time at Dean Court saw the club, then in the third division, famously beat FA Cup holders Manchester United in the third round. Redknapp also led the club to promotion in 1987.

The Londoner joined West Ham as assistant to Billy Bonds in 1992, then became full time manager in 1994. Redknapp established the club in the Premier League, and became renowned for signing seasoned pros like Stuart Pearce and Paolo Di Canio and combining them with young talent such as Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand, before leaving Upton Park in 2011.

The next seven years saw Redknapp back on the south-coast. He led Portsmouth to the Premier League for the first time in 2003, before then resigning in 2004 after successfully keeping Pompey in the top flight. A few weeks later he took over at bitter rival Southmapton charged with keeping them in the Premier League, but his attempts failed. Then half way through the 2005/06 season, Redknapp left Southampton and ended up back at Fratton Park, tasked once again with keeping the club up. In 2008, he led Pompey to FA Cup triumph, his first cup win as a player or manager.

In October 2008, Redknapp left Portsmouth again following an approach from Tottenham, who were bottom of the Premier League after eight games with just two points. Redknapp led the club to safety, and in his first full season guided the club into the Champions League for the first time in their history. Famous wins over holders Inter Milan and city rivals AC Milan in the competition raised Redknapp’s stock in the game, and he was favourite for the England job when Fabio Capello left in 2012 before it was offered to Roy Hodgson. Redknapp left Tottenham at the end of the 2012 season after leading the club to two top four finishes in three seasons.

His last job in the Premier League came in the 2012/13 season, when once again he was tasked with keeping a club in the top flight – this time Queens Park Rangers. Redknapp couldn’t work his magic this time and the club were relegated.

Since leaving QPR in 2015, Redknapp has taken a mixture of coaching, advisory and management roles with the likes of Derby County, Birmingham City, Yeovil Town and the Jordan national team.

YouTube video
Harry Redknapp: 'You've Got To Be Strong' | UCFB-LMA Insight Series

Michael O’Neill

O’Neill has transformed the Northern Ireland national team from international minnows with little hope of tournament qualification, to a nation buoyed by its success at Euro 2016 and one that narrowly, and cruelly, missed out in the play-offs for this year’s World Cup in Russia.

His playing career took him around the British Isles, racking up appearances for Newcastle United, Dundee United, Hibernian, Wigan Athletic and Glentoran, where he won the Irish League in 2003. He also spent time in the US with Portland Timbers, and played for his country 31 times.

After hanging up his boots O’Neill initially took up a finance career, before taking a part-time role as assistant manager at Scottish side Cowdenbeath. In 2006 Brechin City appointed O’Neill as their manager for his first full-time role, where he stayed until the end of 2008 when he was approached by Shamrock Rovers, one of the Republic of Ireland’s leading clubs.

O’Neill led the south Dublin side to the Irish title in 2010, their first in over a decade. The following season, Rovers became the first Irish side to reach the group stages of a European competition, where they played Tottenham, PAOK and Rubin Kazan. A certain Harry Kane scored his first goal for Tottenham against O’Neill’s side in Dublin during the competition. Rovers and O’Neill retained their title in 2011 before he left the club for the Northern Ireland job.

He led the nation to their first ever European Championships in 2016 following a memorable qualifying campaign. It was also Northern Ireland’s first appearance in an international competition for 30 years. In France, the nation surprised everyone by making it through to the second round where they were narrowly beaten by Wales, but only after earning a brilliant win over Ukraine.

Qualification for the 2018 World Cup was a realistic goal and O’Neill’s side finished second in their group behind holders Germany, earning a deserved play-off spot. However, a 1-0 defeat over two-legs to Switzerland, following the terrible award of a penalty in the first leg in Belfast, ended the dream.

Harry Redknapp will appear at UCFB Wembley on Wednesday 7th February at 10am. Michael O’Neill will appear at UCFB Etihad Campus on the same day at 10am.