After five-and-a-half years at the helm, Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has stepped down after defeat to Austria in Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier leaves the national team with a mountain to climb in order to qualify for next year’s finals in Brazil.

Ireland’s 1-0 defeat to Austria leaves them with a mathematical possibility of qualifying should they win their last two games, including a trip to Germany, and Sweden lose both of their remaining fixtures.

"I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here, which has always meant a lot to us," said Trapattoni.

"We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect."

Immediately after last night’s game in Vienna, Trapattoni said he would wait for the Football Association of Ireland to decide on his future and the FAI announced his departure this morning after a meeting with Trapattoni and assistant boss Marco Tardelli.

Trapattoni's scheduled post-match news conference earlier today had already been cancelled by that point, a move which heightened speculation that his departure was imminent.

Bookmakers have installed Martin O’Neil as the early favourite to succeed the Italian at the Aviva Stadium.

Arguably. the 74-year-old's biggest achievement in his five years as manager was steering the team to the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine, where they lost all three of their games against Croatia, Italy and eventual champions Spain.

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