Chris Coleman confirmed as Wales manager

 

Chris Coleman has been confirmed as the new manager of Wales.

The 41-year-old former Wales defender succeeds Gary Speed who died in November at the age of 42.

Coleman began his managerial career with Fulham in 2003, spending four years at Craven Cottage before having spells at Spanish club Real Sociedad, Coventry and Greek club Larissa, who he left earlier this month.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said in a statement: "This has been a very difficult process.

"We have explored every avenue, every scenario possible. We have taken on board the thoughts and views of the backroom staff, the players and the supporters.

"All along we believe that we have been respectful and dignified and had no wish to be involved in a public debate on the appointment of Gary's successor.

"Gary was the manager of Welsh football and of course we want to continue his legacy. He was not a figurehead, he was the manager and that is why we have decided on the appointment of Chris Coleman to build on the excellent foundations put in place by Gary."

Coleman admitted it was a "bittersweet" feeling for him to take over Wales following the death of his good friend Speed.

"Whilst on one hand it's probably the proudest moment of my career to be given the opportunity to lead my country, but then to be given that opportunity because of the circumstances nobody could foresee, so it's bittersweet for me, of course it is," he said at a press conference in Cardiff.

"I was very close friends with Gary, 30 years, so it's a difficult experience for me. It's probably the most difficult press conference I've ever done or ever had to do I imagine.

"But I'm very proud to be the new manager and I'm also very sad because of the situation we find ourselves in."

The FAW will be hoping that Coleman can continue the progress that Wales had made with Speed in charge, with the Dragons winning four of their final five games during the former midfielder's tenure before his death in November.

That run of results moved Wales into the world's top 50 and earned them the tag of 2011's highest climbers in the FIFA rankings.

Coleman added: "It's not just the wins but the philosophy and style of play and I think we all agree it's refreshing and we've enjoyed it.

"It was always going to be difficult for the next Wales manager, whoever it was going to be, because of the situation. I think it's even more difficult for me because of my relationship with Gary.

"I've already spoken with the FAW members this morning and I said 'excuse me if I don't seem that excited, I am excited, I'm just a little bit subdued because of the circumstances'.

"It won't be easy but I'm looking forward to it."

He added: "There's still shock about what happened and I think we're all still grieving. We've just got to let that happen. I think the only way we can put smiles on the people's faces is try to play the best we can, continue to try to win football matches and continue to progress. But I don't kid myself, we'll probably never get over the loss of Gary."

Coleman's first job in management saw him keep Fulham in the top flight before guiding them to a ninth-place finish after being tipped for relegation.

He moved to Spain in 2007 with Sociedad but resigned after six months despite the team being on a good run due to as difference of opinion on the plans set out by the club's new president.

He then had a two-year spell as manager of Coventry, which came to an end in May 2010 after they finished 19th in the Championship, their lowest league finish in over 40 years.

When asked about his management career post-Fulham, Swansea-born Coleman said: "I think the perception of me since Fulham is that my career has been chequered.

"I'll tell you my career since Fulham: At Coventry it was chequered, yeah, I made mistakes at Coventry, not half as many mistakes as the people around the club, but I made my own mistakes also.

"So then we look at Spain and look at Greece. I left Real Sociedad in the January, two points behind automatic promotion with the youngest team in the league, so I left them in a very good position. The new president and I had a difference of opinion so I walked.

"I just left Larissa two points from the top of the league. I left there again because financially they're in a lot of trouble. Some of my players and staff had not been paid for over a year, it was not a situation I wanted to be involved in.

"Everyone can see what I did at Fulham, I was proud of what I did there.

"If you call that chequered, that's alright. I think I've had to work hard personally.

"I'm 41, not 61, I've been doing it for 10 years. I've had experience in three different countries, managed over 150 games in the Premier League. People will look at my career and say it's ok, others will say it is chequered, that's up to them.

"I'm still learning. I still want to progress and get better."

Coleman also insisted he was not viewing the Wales job as a stepping-stone to something else.

"I won't be using it as vehicle to put me somewhere else, I'm doing because it's my country. I'll be giving it everything I've got," he said.

"I'll be a very proud man if I can continue progressing the team like the way Gary was doing it."

Coleman's contract will run for the duration of Wales' qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup.

PA

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