Gary Speed has been appointed the new manager of Wales. The former national team captain has left his job as Sheffield United FC boss to take charge of his country, who have been without a manager since John Toshack stepped down in September.
The erstwhile midfielder, who had a distinguished playing career with, among others, Leeds United AFC, Everton FC and Newcastle United FC, was unveiled at a press conference in Cardiff today after agreeing what is believed to be a three-and-a-half-year contract.
The 41-year-old said: "When your country comes calling it is very difficult to turn it down. It's a big task but I'm thankful for the opportunity to try and make Wales successful and to compete consistently on the world stage. The players are of an age when we can be together for a long time and improve and grow as a team."
Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Jonathan Ford said: "Our mission was to get the best man for the job and I am sure we have succeeded in that." The move came just 18 games into Speed's reign at Sheffield United, whom he leaves in 20th place in England's second tier.
Speed won the last of his 85 caps – 44 as captain – in 2004, and played at club level until November 2008. His first match at the helm will be a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in February with a home fixture against England in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group G to follow on 26 March. Wales are bottom of the section with no points from three games.
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