Craig Bellamy has been officially named as the Wales national team head coach. The former star forward now replaces Rob Page at the helm. Page previously held the position for around three-and-a-half years. Nevertheless, Welsh soccer officials fired their manager following two disappointing showings in recent friendlies.

Page could only manage a draw against Gibraltar on June 6 and then suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Slovakia three days later. The decision to sack their previous coach also came after the Dragons failed to qualify for the Euro 2024.

“It’s an incredible honor for me to be given the opportunity to lead my country and it’s the proudest moment of my career,” proclaimed 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 is the ninth consecutive Welshman to manage the national team

It was previously reported that Wales was looking to make a splash in their managerial search. Former French superstar Thierry Henry was being considered by Welsh soccer officials. Henry is currently France’s U21/U23 head coach and will lead his country’s men’s team during the upcoming Summer Olympics.

Before being in charge of the youth sides, the former striker was also manager of Monaco and Montreal. Things, however, did not go as planned for Henry with the two teams. He managed to win just 27% of his games at the helm of the French and Canadian clubs.

Despite Henry having more experience than Bellamy, Wales went with tradition in their choice. The last nine managers of the Dragons have all been Welshmen. The last head coach of the team that was not from the nation was England’s Bobby Gould. The former striker departed Wales in 1999 after failing to qualify for the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

Bellamy also previously captained the Wales national team at times as well. The forward filled in for typical leader Ryan Giggs when the Manchester United star was out with injury. In total, Bellamy captained the side during four of his 78 total appearances with the team.

Wales job will be first senior management experience for Bellamy

Despite his ties to Wales, Bellamy does not have any management experience with a senior team. The former Norwich, Newcastle, and Cardiff star began his coaching career with the latter side’s youth setup in 2016. Although he looked certain to take over the helm at Oxford in 2018, the deal ultimately fell through. Bellamy then departed Cardiff the following year after he allegedly bullied youngsters.

Later that year, the Welshman signed on to coach under his former Manchester City teammate Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht. During his two-year spell in Belgium, Bellamy worked as a U21 coach and assistant to the new Bayern Munich manager. He later rejoined Kompany at Burnley in 2022, but will now step away from the English club to join Wales.

Bellamy will have some time to prepare for the team’s next round of international fixtures. The Dragons next host Turkey and then travel to Montenegro in September in a pair of Nations League matchups.