Worthington to step down as Northern Ireland coach
Nigel Worthington will step down as coach of Northern Ireland on Tuesday after failing to qualify the team for next year's European Championship.
Friday's 2-1 home defeat to Estonia ended any slim hopes the Northern Irish had of reaching the tournament in Ukraine and Poland.
The 49-year-old Worthington will end his 4 1/2-year stint as coach after the team's final qualifier, against Italy in Pescara.
''I feel it is only right to give the (Irish Football) Association and players the opportunity and time to move forward and that is why I have decided that Tuesday night's game will be my last in charge,'' Worthington said Monday.
After guiding Northern Ireland to a third-place finish in its qualifying group for Euro 2008, Worthington signed a two-year deal that was then renewed, taking him through to the end of this year.
''A lot of hard work has been put in by many people over this time to help improve Northern Ireland football,'' said Worthington, a former stalwart of the national team.
After the Italy match, Northern Ireland's next game isn't until February, giving the Irish FA plenty of time to find a replacement.
Northern Ireland, which is 70th in the FIFA rankings, hasn't qualified for a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.