On this day in 2012: Chris Coleman appointed new Wales manager

Chris Coleman went on to guide Wales to Euro 2016, a first major tournament since 1958 (Andrew Matthews/PA)
PA Sport Staff

Chris Coleman was appointed as the new Wales manager, succeeding his friend, the late Gary Speed, on this day in 2012.

Former Wales defender Coleman began his managerial career with Fulham in 2003 before having spells at Spanish club Real Sociedad, Coventry and Larissa in Greece, leaving shortly ahead of his appointment to the national team.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford admitted it had been a “very difficult process” to find someone to replace Speed.

Former Wales’ national football team manager Chris Coleman (centre) with Football Association Wales president David Griffiths (left) and Football Association Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford after a press conference
Chris Coleman (centre) was all smiles as he took on the Wales job (Ben Birchall/PA)

While Coleman described his appointment as “the proudest moment in my career”, he acknowledged the circumstances surrounding Speed’s death made it a “bittersweet” experience.

“It was always going to be difficult for the next Wales manager, whoever it was going to be, because of the situation,” Coleman said. “I think it’s even more difficult for me because of my relationship with Gary.

“Although we were close friends, we were different personalities, but I’m not here to disrupt anything, I’m here to build on it.”

Wales were never in the hunt for 2014 World Cup qualification, suffering an embarrassing 6-1 defeat in Serbia as they finished below Scotland and second bottom of their group.

Manager Chris Coleman gestures on the touchline during Wales' Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal
Coleman took Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 in France (Nick Potts/PA)

Coleman, though, agreed a new deal to stay on and memorably guided Wales to their first major tournament for 58 years when qualifying for Euro 2016, where they reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Portugal.

Despite his contract extension also taking in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Coleman resigned as Wales manager in November 2017 after a home defeat to the Republic of Ireland had ended hopes of reaching the finals in Russia.

Coleman was soon back in football, swiftly appointed the new manager at Sunderland.

However, with the club up for sale, he could not keep them in the Championship and left in April 2018 before having a spell in charge at Hebei China Fortune.