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Wales unveil ex-captain Gary Speed as new manager

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Speed welcomes high expectation

Former captain Gary Speed has been unveiled as the new manager of Wales.

The 41-year-old, who only has four months of managerial experience, succeeds John Toshack who stepped down in September.

Sheffield United handed Speed his first job in August but the Blades have let him go after compensation was paid by the Football Association of Wales.

"It's something that's very difficult to turn down when your country comes calling," said Speed.

"I am a very proud man to be asked to be manager of Wales.

"I'm just thankful I've got the opportunity to come and try to make Wales successful. It's an opportunity I'm really looking forward to."

Speed, who is Wales' most capped outfield player after making 85 appearances for his country, has signed a three-and-a-half year deal that will take him up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

He has less managerial experience than the likes of former Sweden manager Lars Lagerbeck, ex-Fulham and Coventry boss Chris Coleman and Wales caretaker manager and youth boss Brian Flynn, who were all interviewed by the FAW for the vacant position.

Former Wales striker John Hartson is another candidate to have applied for the post vacated by Toshack following a poor start to the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

Speed replaced Kevin Blackwell as Blades boss in August having already been part of the backroom team at Bramall Lane but has struggled on his managerial debut.

United lost half of Speed's 18 games in charge, leaving them one point and two places above the Championship relegation zone.

But he is not concerned about questions over his experience.

"It's always going to be thrown at me but I'd like to thank Sheffield United for the opportunity both as a coach under Kevin Blackwell and as a manager," added Speed, who was the subject of a failed approach by Swansea City in the summer.

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"It's amazing how quick you learn in this game.

"I learnt a lot as a coach and it prepared me for management. In the four months I've been at Sheffield United, I've learnt a lot about managing a football team."

Speed is the 11th national manager of Wales and takes over a side who are bottom of their qualifying group for Euro 2012, having lost all three matches they have played.

Their next Group G qualifier is against England on 26 March but first they face Republic of Ireland on 8 February in the Four Nations Cup.

And Speed is aware of the task facing him.

"It's my job to lift Welsh football from top to bottom and I'm really looking forward to the challenge," he added.

"We need to consistently compete on a world stage, not just coming close to qualifying every now and again.

"The group of players that we've got are of an age where we can be together for a long time and improve and grow as a team.

"I'm looking forward to that challenge of putting things in place so we can try and be successful with those players."

Speed has yet to appoint an assistant or a backroom team but says it would be the "best man for the job" over experience or nationality.

FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford says he expects Brian Flynn to continue in his role of bringing youth through the Wales ranks.

"Brian is of course disappointed and gutted not to be appointed the national team manager," said Ford.

"That said, Brian is an existing employee of the association, he is the manager of the intermediate squads and, ultimately, I'm sure Brian will be looking to take those guys forward as he has been doing."

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see also
Gary Speed picture gallery
27 Nov 11 |  Wales
Hughes backs Speed for Wales job
10 Dec 10 |  Welsh
Lagerback in frame for Wales job
19 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Rush 'capable' of doing Wales job
11 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Flynn urged to go for Wales job
16 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Speed confirmed as Blades manager
17 Aug 10 |  Sheff Utd
Wales' football managers
13 Sep 10 |  Welsh
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Welsh
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Birch in no rush to replace Speed
14 Dec 10 |  Sheff Utd


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