(CNN) -- English Premier League club Sunderland have confirmed Martin O'Neill as their new manager.
The former Celtic and Aston Villa boss replaces Steve Bruce who was sacked at the end of November after a string of poor results which has left the club languishing in 16th place in the league.
O'Neill, who has signed a three-year contract, described the appointment as a "big moment" for him.
"It's a very nice feeling to be back in football and to be the manager of Sunderland," O'Neill said in a statement on the club's official web site.
"I'd heard about what a good club it was, but coming here, seeing the stadium and training ground, I've been bowled over. It's absolutely fantastic," O'Neill added.
"I hope I can help Sunderland to very successful period. That's what I've come for and that's my driving ambition."
The former Northern Ireland international will officially take charge on Monday, but is expected to be in the stands at Molineux for Sunderland's game against fellow strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.