CARDIFF: Chris Coleman has been appointed manager of Wales in succession to Gary Speed. The 41-year-old former Wales defender 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, whom he left earlier this month. Speed was found handed at his home last autumn, aged 41.

Jonathan Ford, chief executive of the Football Association of Wales, said: “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.

“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 had mixed feelings about the appointment, saying: “On one hand it’s probably the proudest moment of my career to be given the opportunity to lead my country but to be given that opportunity because of the circumstances nobody could foresee, is bittersweet for me.

“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.”

The first formal  matchfor Coleman will be against Costa Rica in Cardiff on February 29. However this has been designated by the FAW as a memorial tribute to Speed as Coleman has insisted that “it will not be my game.”