Michael O’Neill admits there was a creeping little bit of inevitability about the decision this week to focus on one job.
The football shutdown and change of calendar has seen O’Neill step down as Northern Ireland manager and, for the first time in a best part of a decade, just concentrate on club football – and Stoke City.
He had intended to oversee Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs last month but they have now been pushed back to at least October.
“I had to make a decision in November to come to Stoke City and part of that decision was that the IFA would have liked me to take the play-off games,” he said. “I was prepared to do that and Stoke were very good in accommodating that.
“So it was only a temporary scenario really and the bigger decision was made in November, possibly, rather than now.
“What this decision has meant is obviously that there is a degree of finality about it.
“The IFA can go and appoint a new manager and that will be part of my career which is in the past now. It is very sad to leave a job but mentally the decision for me was made five months ago.
“I’m glad I made that decision at the right time. There was a degree of inevitability about this and it had to be done in the best interests of everyone; the club, the association and also for me.
“The longer it goes, you are continually having to answer questions about it without having any degree of certainty and this gives everyone certainty now – particularly for the IFA – to move forward.
“It allows me to not have to deal with that scenario and for my sole focus to be on Stoke City.”