Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill says that his players were left “deeply saddened and shocked” by the suicide bomb attack in Manchester which claimed the lives of 22 people, leaving 64 injured.
The government of the United Kingdom has raised the terror threat in the country from ‘severe’ to ‘critical’ following the fatal blast that occurred during an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on Monday evening.
The Green and White Army are currently based in Manchester for a training camp ahead of their friendly game against New Zealand and World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.
Asked for his reaction to the situation, O’Neill said that he and his squad were thinking of those affected by the events and suggested that some of his players could easily have found themselves caught up in such a disaster.
“When the news filtered through of what happened everyone was deeply saddened and shocked by the events,” O’Neill said.
“Our thoughts are obviously with all the families. Something like that is something that our players would go to as well with their kids.
Michael O’Neill and the players are training in Manchester this week. Here’s the manager’s reaction to the shocking events in the city: pic.twitter.com/f8B1RHeec1
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) May 23, 2017
“You know, it’s a time for us to reflect as well and our thoughts are with all of those people who were unfortunately involved.”
As the news of the attack was reported, many figures across the world of football expressed their sadness, but also their solidarity with the people of Manchester.
“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. It’s a sad day for the great city of Manchester. #Unity,” Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany wrote on Twitter:
Former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo shared an image of a Union flag with Manchester written on it in a display of unity with the people of the city, while Red Devils captain Wayne Rooney, captain of Manchester United, also expressed shock at the events, writing: “Devastating news this morning. Thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.”