Former Celtic star lands first senior head coach role with major international appointment

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The new head coach turned down the opportunity to remain within the Premier League

The former Celtic forward Craig Bellamy has been announced as the new head coach of the Welsh national team following Rob Page’s departure. Bellamy, 44, has signed a four-year contract with Wales and while the former Hoops man has been in coaching since retiring from playing in 2014, this role marks his first in a senior number one role.

Bellamy had previously worked as assistant coach to Vincent Kompany at both Anderlecht and Burnley but was identified as the Football Association of Wales’s preferred candidate following Page’s dismissal.

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“It’s an incredible honour for me to be given the opportunity to lead my country and it’s the proudest moment of my career. It was always my ultimate dream to become the Cymru head coach and I am ready for the challenge.

“I will give my full commitment to develop this team and I am passionate to bring continued success into Welsh football. I can’t wait to get started with our Nations League games in September.”

The former forward began his career with Norwich City in 1996. He then headed to Coventry City and Newcastle before being sent out on loan to Celtic in January 2005 from St James’ Park. He made his debut for the club in a 2-0 Old Firm defeat but would go on to score his first goal the following week in a 5-0 win over Clyde in the Scottish Cup.

Bellamy then scored a hat-trick for the Hoops as they beat Dundee United 3-2 and would go on to end the season having scored 19 goals for both Celtic and Newcastle combined. While Celtic had been keen to sign him on a permanent basis, the Hoops were unable to meet the Magpies’ valuation or Bellamy or his wage demands.

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The forward then went on to represent Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool, West Ham, Manchester City before heading to his childhood club Cardiff City.

Bellamy also made 78 appearances for Wales in an international career that spanned from 1998-2014. He captained the team from 2007-2010 and made no secret of his wish that one day he would be managing the team in the future. In fact, the former Parkhead man applied for the role in 2018 but was beaten to the job by Page’s predecessor Ryan Giggs.

The ex-Hoops man had been offered a role within Scott Parker’s coaching team following the latter’s appointment at Burnley but the ‘dream’ was too much to turn down.

“The chance to me the manager of Wales, my country, has always been a dream that has never left me and a chance I just couldn’t turn down”, Bellamy continued. “I wish Scotty all the very best, he’s a good person and a close friend and the club is in great hands.”

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Bellamy had been close to taking the Oxford United job in 2018 while he was an academy coach at Cardiff. However, he pulled out of talks at the last minute following a change in ownership at the-then League One club. He was briefly acting head coach at Burnley this summer following Kompany’s move to Bayern Munich.

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