Noel King steps down as Ireland U21 head coach

Noel King has stepped down as head coach of the Republic of Ireland U21 team.

King, who served for eight years in the role, will become full-time Player Identification Manager for the FAI.

Ireland didn't qualify for the European Championships in King's tenure, with two third-placed finishes their best results in four full campaigns.

The likes of Shane Duffy, Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick went through King's teams as they graduated to become stalwarts of the national team.

"I would like to thank FAI CEO John Delaney and the FAI Board for placing their trust in me at the beginning and for their support over the eight years. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the role and was honoured to hold such a distinguished position," said King in a statement.

"I enjoyed some fantastic experiences and I am proud to have helped move the team on during my period with the Under-21s. I am hugely thankful to all of the players and backroom staff - ranging from coaches, doctors, physios, kit technicians, operation executives, analysts, to media officers - who I was fortunate to work with.

"I take with me some great memories from over the years and moving forward I am excited to continue working with the FAI in the capacity of identifying players to represent Ireland."

King also served as caretaker manager of the senior squad for two matches in 2013, a 3-0 loss to Germany and 3-1 win over Kazakhstan, after Giovanni Trapattoni's resignation.

In 2010, he managed the women's U17s to the final of the European Championships, losing the final to Spain on penalties.

He will work with FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter in his new role.

"Under-21 football is one of the most challenging tiers in international football and Noel has done a very good job to keep Ireland competitive in that environment, continually improving players and the team's overall ranking," said Dokter.

"Noel has also helped to develop a lot of players, which continues the good work being done along the elite player pathway. I thank Noel for his work with the Under-21s and look forward to continually supporting him in the Player Identification role."

The process of hiring a new U21 coach will begin "in due course".

FAI CEO John Delaney said: "I would like to thank Noel for the time and effort that he put into the Under-21s, where he has brought through a number of players for our senior Ireland team.

"Through the years Noel has held several roles, including a spell as interim manager of the senior team, and I'm sure that he will be successful continuing his work with the Player Identification programme, which runs within our High Performance unit."

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