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Bellamy appointed Wales manager on four-year deal

Craig Bellamy points to pitch from the Burnley touchline
Craig Bellamy played more than 400 top-flight matches during his career [Getty Images]

Craig Bellamy is the new Wales manager having agreed a four-year deal until 2028.

The 44-year-old succeeds former team-mate Robert Page, who was sacked in June.

Cardiff-born Bellamy won 78 Wales caps and captained the side between 2007-2010.

"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," said Bellamy.

"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."

Bellamy takes up the role having left Burnley, where he had been acting head coach before Scott Parker's appointment last week.

Parker was keen to work with the Welshman, but Burnley chairman Alan Pace said Bellamy leaves with the blessings of everyone at the club.

"I want to thank Craig for all his hard work during his time at Burnley and wish him the best for his new position as Wales manager," said Pace.

"Craig has been a very important part of our wonderful journey the last two years. I've admired his leadership, knowledge and passion.

"I am certain that he will continue to find success in his new role, and I wish him the very best of luck."

BBC Wales Sport understands Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, Georgia boss Willy Sagnol and surprise contender Des Buckingham, the Oxford United boss, were all spoken to about the post, but Bellamy was the Football Association of Wales (FAW's) first choice.

The FAW's chief football officer, Dr David Adams, said: "We undertook a thorough recruitment process for the new men's national team head coach and Craig was identified as the standout candidate.

"We are all looking forward to the Nations League games and working with Craig to deliver success for Welsh football."

Bellamy, who narrowly missed out to Ryan Giggs for the 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.

Bellamy retired from international football in 2013, missing out on the chance to play in a major finals as Wales qualified for Euro 2016 under Chris Coleman.

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 their permanent role, it opened the door for the FAW.

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

Having started 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.

In addition to his 78 international caps, Bellamy's 19 goals place him seventh in the men's all-time list of Wales goalscorers, while he was also part of the Great Britain team at the 2012 Olympics.

He was one vote shy of beating Giggs to succeed Coleman for the national job in 2018.

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.