Bellamy set to be named Wales manager

Craig Bellamy points to pitch from the Burnley touchlineGetty Images

Craig Bellamy is set to be named the new Wales manager.

The 44-year-old has emerged as the Football Association of Wales (FAW’s) first choice to replace Rob Page, who was sacked last month.

Bellamy is currently at Burnley, where he had been acting head coach before Scott Parker’s appointment last week.

Parker was keen to work with the Welshman, but it appears the former Wales captain is attracted to managing his country.

BBC Sport Wales understands the final details of a deal are still be agreed with both Bellamy and Burnley.

But an appointment is understood to be close, bringing an end the search to replace Page who was sacked in June after Wales failed to qualify for Euro 2024.

Bellamy has long stated his ambition to manage his country and met with senior FAW figures last week.

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, Georgia boss Willy Sagnol and surprise contender Oxford United boss Des Buckingham were all spoken to about the post.

But Bellamy, who narrowly missed out to Ryan Giggs for job in 2018, is said to have impressed during discussions – and will now get the chance to lead the side in qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

His first game as Wales manager will be a Nations League home tie against Turkey on 6 September, followed by a trip to Montenegro on 9 September.

Craig Bellamy celebrates after scoring for Wales against Italy

Huw Evans Picture Agency

Bellamy made 78 appearances for Wales before retiring from international football in 2013, missing out on the chance to play in a major finals when Wales qualified under Chris Coleman two years later.

He took his first steps in coaching with Cardiff City’s academy before serving as assistant manager to former Manchester City team-mate Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht and then Burnley.

Bellamy stood in when Kompany served a touchline ban last season and stepped up when the Belgian left for Bayern Munich in May.

But with Burnley opting for former Fulham and Bournemouth manager Parker for the permanent role, it opened the door for the FAW.

Bellamy now appears ready to return to Wales having ended his playing career with hometown club Cardiff City, helping them to promotion to the Premier League in 2014.

Having started his playing career at Norwich, Bellamy’s playing career spanned many of the biggest clubs in British football, including Newcastle, Celtic, Manchester City and Liverpool, twice.

But even as a player he was keen to broaden his outlook beyond the domestic game and when coming through the professional ranks as a player, would regularly go to watch football on the continent.

While accruing plenty of international experience with Wales, Bellamy, who netted 19 goals for his country, was part of the Great Britain team at the 2012 Olympics.

Bellamy is seventh in both the all time list of Wales international goal scorers and cap holders, and was one vote shy from beating Giggs to succeed Coleman for the the national job.

He had previously helped coach Wales age-grade sides but, having turned down the chance to take his first steps into frontline management with Oxford in 2018, Bellamy’s breakthrough will now come at the highest level.

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