Martin O'Neill: I deserved to stay on at Sunderland

Martin O'Neill was sacked at Sunderland and replaced by Paolo di Canio this week.
Scott Heppell/AP

Martin O'Neill says he deserved the chance to keep Sunderland in the Premier League after saving the club when it was "on its knees'' last season.

O'Neill was sacked last weekend for the first time as a manager after Sunderland slipped to just one point above the relegation zone, following a run of eight games without a win.

Breaking his silence, the 61-year-old Irishman says "I believed I saved the club from relegation last year, and I felt that opportunity should have still been afforded to me.''

O'Neill tells the BBC that "very little shocks you about professional football . I think you can nearly lose your job in management if your tie doesn't fit your suit.''

Paolo Di Canio replaced O'Neill as Sunderland manager.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.