Nigel Worthington will step down as coach of Northern Ireland after Tuesday's 2012 European Championship qualifier against Italy.

The 49-year-old Worthington took charge of Northern Ireland in June 2007 but failed to qualify the team for a major tournament.

The Northern Irish were defeated 2-1 by Estonia in Belfast in Friday to end their slim hopes of reaching Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland.

Worthington says Monday ''I feel it is only right to give the (Irish Football) Association and players the opportunity and time to move forward.''

Worthington's contract was due to expire at the end of the year. After the Italy match, Northern Ireland's next game isn't until February.