Martin O'Neill explains how criminology fascination may have helped his career

Football manager Martin O'Neill, pictured during a television broadcast of the UEFA Nations League match between Scotland and the Republic of Ireland on 24 September, 2022 at Hampden Park in Glasgow, United Kingdom
(Image credit: Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Ex-Celtic, Republic of Ireland and Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill wonders whether his managerial career benefitted from one of his biggest interests outside football: criminology.

The Northern Irishman enjoyed a three decade-long career in the dugout, with highlights including three Scottish titles with Celtic and two League Cup triumphs with Leicester.

You don't tend to get that far in management if you're not in tune with players – and O'Neill has considered whether his self-confessed fascination with criminology helped him get inside the minds of the teams he coached.

Answering readers' questions for the latest issue of FourFourTwo available to buy (opens in new tab), the 70-year-old – who has also taken charge of Norwich, Sunderland and, most recently, Nottingham Forest (where he won two European Cups as a player) – explained:

"As a manager, it's about man management – getting into the minds of players – so I suppose if you start to study criminology, it may have have happened somewhere along the way.

"I became interested in criminology when I was six or seven. A crime of passion took place in my village, in Kilrea [in Northern Ireland]; my father told me about it and I became fascinated with wanting to go to the exact spot, and it carried on from there.

"It's true that I have been to some high-profile trials, but I won't say which ones because the families of the people involved might think it's a ghoulish thing – and it's not. I have visited the place where JFK was shot, though; I can say I've done that."

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...