Wales Ready To Cast Net Across Europe For New Boss

Yaya Toure. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Wales Ready To Cast Net Across Europe For New Boss

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By Paul Jones

Wales are willing to appoint a non-Welshman as manager for the first time in 25 years.

The Football Association of Wales has detailed the criteria required to succeed Rob Page after ending his three-and-a-half-year reign last week and invited “expressions of interest” from potential candidates.

Welsh football’s governing body has confirmed it is looking for an individual with a “proven track record of delivering success at club and/or international level” and plans to cast its net far and wide.

Thierry Henry, Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira – charismatic playing greats who went through Wales’ admired coaching system – would all be welcomed to express interest by the FAW, although all three are currently in employment.

“The FAW knows how important coach education is to growing the game in Wales and offers a world-renowned service through its coaching courses,” said a FWA statement.

“The UEFA Pro-Licence is a pre-requisite for coaches at the top level of the game and this qualification will be required to become Cymru’s next head coach.

“The Pro-Licence prepares candidates to work as a modern-day manager or head coach at club or international level. It develops their leadership and interpersonal skills to successfully implement their unique management style and philosophy.”

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Englishman Bobby Gould was the last non-Welshman to manage Wales with his four-year tenure coming to an end in 1999.

Former Wales players Mark Hughes, John Toshack, Brian Flynn (interim), Chris Coleman, Ryan Giggs and Page have held the position in the 21st century.

But the FAW hierarchy have felt for some time that the role should not be restricted to domestic candidates, and Wales’ failure to qualify for Euro 2024 and Page’s subsequent sacking have convinced them the time is right to look further afield.

Henry, the 46-year-old former Arsenal and France striker, came close to joining the Wales set-up in 2018 when former FAW technical director and assistant manager Osian Roberts applied to succeed Coleman.

Roberts would have appointed Henry as his assistant had he proved successful, but the FAW eventually gave the job to Giggs.

Henry has since managed Monaco and Montreal Impact, worked with Belgium as Roberto Martinez’s assistant and, as France Under-21 boss, is currently preparing to lead his country’s Olympic team in Paris next month.

Vieira, 48, Henry’s former Arsenal and France team-mate, also fits the criteria after spells at New York City, Nice and Crystal Palace. He has spent the last 12 months in charge of Ligue 1 club Strasbourg.

Toure is the most inexperienced of the trio, but the former Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder cut his coaching teeth in the Tottenham Academy and at Standard Liege in Belgium where he was assistant manager.

The 41-year-old is currently on the Saudi Arabia coaching staff assisting manager Roberto Mancini.

The FAW accepts that it can not match the salaries paid by other national associations or European clubs, but believes the lure of trying to lead Wales to the next World Cup will be an attractive proposition.

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Dave Adams, the FAW’s chief football officer and technical director, will lead the process to fill an appointment that may take several weeks.

“The head coach position is integral to inspiring the Cymru players to ensure qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and deliver against the Football Association of Wales’ strategic objective to consistently qualify for major international tournaments,” the FAW said.

“The FAW has a high performance strategy that has its foundations in the FAW values and the ‘Welsh Way’ tactical principals.

“Through this strategy, the FAW’s ambition is to create winning teams by providing the platform and environment for people to achieve their potential and drive a culture of informed decision making through engagement with experts utilising the FAW’s Centre for Football Research.”

Roberts, now head of development at Serie A club Como, and Burnley interim boss Craig Bellamy would be popular choices with some sections of the Wales fan base.

Wales return to action on September 6 when their Nations League campaign gets under way against Turkey at home, with Iceland and Montenegro also featuring in the group.

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