England will go into UEFA EURO 2012 with Roy Hodgson as their manager after the Football Association (FA) confirmed his appointment on a four-year contract.
Hodgson replaces Fabio Capello, who quit the role in February, and will have just two friendly matches – against Norway in Oslo on 26 May, and Belgium at Wembley on 2 June – before England embark on their EURO campaign against France in Donetsk on 11 June.
"Roy emerged as our stand-out candidate," said David Bernstein, the chairman of the FA, at the press conference to unveil England's new appointment. "We quickly agreed Roy is the right man to guide us through the European Championships and future tournaments.
"We were unanimous in choosing Roy, a manager with vast experience of international and European football. This is the first time the FA has appointed an England manager with any previous international experience. This, I'm sure, will be of great benefit in helping him make the adjustments from club management."
Hodgson described feelings of great pride at taking the job he regards to be "the pinnacle" of football management. "It's a very proud day for me," he said. "
I'm a very happy man to have been offered the chance to manage my country. I'm looking forward enormously to the task ahead; everyone knows it's not an easy one but I also think that everybody – the fans – will get behind the team because it's the team that counts, and it's the team that will win us matches."
Hodgson added that he was aiming to guide England to victory at UEFA EURO 2012 and that the announcement of his provisional squad for the tournament would be put back until the end of the season in order for him to do "as much research" and "speak to as many players as possible". The 64-year-old has also agreed to see out West Bromwich Albion FC's final two Premier League matches of the campaign – against Bolton Wanderers FC and Arsenal FC – before focusing on the matter of steering England to glory in Poland and Ukraine.
"England have always got to go into a tournament with the aim of winning it because we're a major footballing nation. It will be difficult because I've come in at a rather late stage, but I think the players would be disappointed if I tried to do anything less."
The FA announced on Sunday that it had made an approach to West Brom to speak to Hodgson, who had been manager at The Hawthorns since February last year and whose contract with the club ends this summer.
England have been without a manager since the resignation of Capello. Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce held the reins for the 3-2 home friendly defeat by the Netherlands at the end of February.
Hodgson has previous experience of international football with Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Finland and as coach of the Swiss ended their 28-year absence from major tournaments when steering them to the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where they reached the last 16. He also led Switzerland to EURO '96 qualification but moved on to FC Internazionale Milano before the finals.
In an interview with UEFA.com last year, Hodgson reflected on the different challenge of international management when he said: "The major difference for me was the nature of the work and what it demanded from me. You get more preparation time, which is good. I always felt that I was able to go in and really talk with some expertise on the opponents, because I had the chance to follow them and study them and prepare the videos."
Known as a hands-on coach on the training ground, Hodgson also voiced his awareness of one of the potential perils of the job. "
There's a risk with being a national coach, that after periods of inactivity you try to do too much in a short period of time," he said.
"You also forget that the players come from a day-to-day environment, they come to you maybe a little bit tired from their club training sessions, and you are trying to get the maximum and demanding a lot from them in your training sessions; it can be a dangerous job for people like myself who like to be out on the field coaching the players."
Hodgson will face these challenges and more in his new role, but can draw on almost four decades of experience from a coaching career which began with Swedish club Halmstad BK in the mid-1970s.
Since then Hodgson has managed clubs in five other countries – Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Norway and, of course, England. He returned to his homeland in 2007 to take charge of Fulham FC and led them to the UEFA Europa League final in 2010, just as he had done with Inter in the 1997 UEFA Cup, before a short-lived spell as Liverpool FC manager.
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