By David Williams
Former Wales manager Chris Coleman says he is eagerly awaiting his next challenge in football – wherever in the world that may be.
Having been out of work since parting ways with Hebei China Fortune in May 2019, the former Fulham, Real Sociedad and Sunderland boss has endured a strange year, like everyone else.
Cookie, as he is affectionately known by Wales supporters, reached the momentous milestone of 50 years of age in June and says the past year has given him ample time to reflect on his managerial ambitions.
In an exclusive interview with S4C’s Sgorio, Coleman said: “The last year I’ve been out of work, and like everybody else in this current situation, which is a little bit strange for all of us, I’m just waiting for it to pass and eagerly awaiting the next challenge.
“I’ve got no idea where it’s going to come from. I’ve still got plenty of fire in my belly because I love football, I love working with football players, I like building something. I’ve been doing it for 20 years or more.
Chris Coleman: ‘Never say never’ @NickyZJohn interview with the former Wales manager.
— ⚽ Sgorio (@sgorio) November 10, 2020
“I’ve worked around the world in different countries, and I’m still interested in sampling something different and something new. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, I really don’t. I couldn’t say I’m definitely not going to do this or I’m definitely going to do that. I think what experience has taught me one thing is, you never ever know.”
Would he rule out ever returning to the Wales job one day?
“I’ve said before, no I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “I’m 50 now, so with experience, you never say never.
“When I came away from it, I’d had enough of that moment, and I thought this is the time for someone to take it on and do what they want to do. I think I was right in doing what I did.
“Through lockdown, some of our games [from Euro 2016] were being replayed, my family were all sat down as if we didn’t know what was going to happen and getting so excited.
“I knew what was going to happen, I’d watched it so many times, I still wanted to relive it. How lucky are we to be part of that? So, so lucky and grateful for the opportunity to experience it and the whole nation, will carry it forever.”
Ryan Giggs took over from Coleman following the heroics of Euro 2016, where Wales reached the semi-finals of the tournament, although the current manager will not be in charge for Wales’ upcoming matches against the USA, Republic of Ireland and Finland.
Robert Page has been put in temporary charge following a mutual decision taken by the Football Association of Wales and Giggs that he should stand down.
It follows an allegation of assault made against Giggs which he denies.
Though some of the heroes of 2016 remain, the Wales squad looks very different four years on, with a new generation of exciting youngsters having broken through.
And as a fan, Coleman believes there is a bright future ahead for the national team.
Coleman added: “It’s a young squad, it’s exciting. I was looking at the squad against England, most of the players that were under my time, weren’t there. This is a completely different squad. They’ve got another 10 years some of them if they want, and that’s great news for Welsh football.
“But we’ve also got a couple of world class players as well – Gareth and Aaron, to hold their hand if need be, cos they’ve got all the experience. Chris Gunter is still there I’m pleased he got his 97 caps, he’s such a great servant. He’s the perfect example for any young international player.
“The good thing is, we’ve got another [tournament] to look forward to. So when we’ve been waiting so long for tournament football, now we’ve had two in a short space of time. That was the big thing, the first one of course was important when we had to break down a lot of barriers, but is was important to do it quickly again, and we’ve done that, and we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
Watch the full interview with Chris Coleman on Mwy o Sgorio, at 10.30pm on Wednesday night or on S4C Clic. Watch live coverage of Wales’ three upcoming international matches on S4C; Wales v USA from 7.25pm on Thursday night, Wales v Republic of Ireland at 4.45pm on Sunday, and Wales v Finland at 7.25pm on Wednesday 18 November.