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By ESPN Staff

Coleman appointed new Wales manager

Former Fulham and Real Sociedad boss Chris Coleman has been confirmed as the new manager of Wales.

Coleman succeeds former international team-mate Gary Speed, who died in November at the age of 42.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said in a statement: "This has been a very difficult process. We have explored every avenue, every scenario possible. We have taken on board the thoughts and views of the backroom staff, the players and the supporters.

"All along we believe that we have been respectful and dignified and had no wish to be involved in a public debate on the appointment of Gary's successor.

"Gary was the manager of Welsh football and of course we want to continue his legacy. He was not a figurehead, he was the manager and that is why we have decided on the appointment of Chris Coleman to build on the excellent foundations put in place by Gary.''

Coleman, 41, began his managerial career with Fulham in 2003, spending four years at Craven Cottage before having spells at Spanish club Real Sociedad, Coventry and Greek club Larissa, who he left earlier this month.

He admitted it was a "bittersweet'' feeling for him to take over Wales following the death of his good friend Speed.

"Whilst on one hand it's probably the proudest moment of my career to be given the opportunity to lead my country, but then to be given that opportunity because of the circumstances nobody could foresee, so it's bittersweet for me, of course it is,'' Coleman said.

"I was very close friends with Gary, 30 years, so it's a difficult experience for me. It's probably the most difficult press conference I've ever done or ever had to do I imagine. But I'm very proud to be the new manager and I'm also very sad because of the situation we find ourselves in.''

The FAW will be hoping that Coleman can continue the progress that Wales had made with Speed in charge, with the Dragons winning four of their final five games during the former midfielder's tenure before his death in November.

That run of results moved Wales into the world's top 50 and earned them the tag of 2011's highest climbers in the FIFA rankings.

Coleman added: "It's not just the wins but the philosophy and style of play and I think we all agree it's refreshing and we've enjoyed it. It was always going to be difficult for the next Wales manager, whoever it was going to be, because of the situation.

"I think it's even more difficult for me because of my relationship with Gary. I've already spoken with the FAW members this morning and I said 'excuse me if I don't seem that excited, I am excited, I'm just a little bit subdued because of the circumstances. It won't be easy but I'm looking forward to it.''

Larissa have announced their intention to take legal action against the Football Association of Wales over the appointment of Chris Coleman as Wales manager. But the FAW are confident that they and Coleman have been thorough and correct in all matters relating to his appointment, with Larissa's failure to pay Coleman and members of his staff due to their financial problems meaning they were in breach of his contract.

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