Sunday, July 14, 2024

Republic of Ireland: Heimir Hallgrimsson appointment ends search for new manager – BBC Sport

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Image caption, Hallgrimsson was joint head coach of his native Iceland side when they stunned England at Euro 2016 to reach the quarter-finals

Former Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrimsson has been appointed the new Republic of Ireland manager.

The 57-year-old’s announcement ends an eight-month search for a permanent successor to Stephen Kenny.

Hallgrimsson was joint head coach of his native Iceland alongside Lars Lagerback when they stunned England to reach the quarter-finals at Euro 2016.

He was then in sole control when Iceland reached the 2018 World Cup finals and achieved their highest ever Fifa World ranking of 18th during his time in charge.

Hallgrimsson was appointed Jamaica manager in 2022 but stepped down earlier this month following their exit from the Copa America.

Football Association of Ireland (FAI) director of football Marc Canham said the governing body had earlier this year identified Hallgrimsson as “our number one candidate”.

“Not only does Heimir have significant experience at international level with two different countries, but crucially he also has a track record of qualifying for major international tournaments and taking teams up the Fifa world rankings,” he added.

‘A young, exciting team with genuine potential’

Following Kenny’s departure in November, the FAI initially earmarked having a new boss in charge for the Uefa Nations League draw in February but the appointment process dragged on and led to criticism of the governing body.

England Under-21 manager Lee Carsley, a former Republic of Ireland midfielder, emerged as the FAI’s initial preferred candidate, but he ruled himself out of contention in March by which time John O’Shea had been named interim boss.

Former Wales manager Chris Coleman was believed to be in strong contention before opting out, while Neil Lennon and Chris Hughton were others linked with the vacancy.

Up until Wednesday, Hallgrimsson wasn’t mentioned in the Irish media as a likely choice and, while the FAI has described him as “our number one candidate”, his appointment has come as a major surprise.

The new Republic of Ireland boss, whose official title is head coach, said the post was “an honour”.

“We have a young and exciting team that has genuine potential,” said Hallgrimsson.

“I am looking forward to working closely with the players to help coach and guide them towards improved performances and results ensuring we qualify and compete at major tournaments on a regular basis.”

That may prove no easy task for a team that has slipped to 60th in the world rankings after being as high as 28th in October 2019.

Image caption, John O’Shea called for clarity from the FAI last month amid his own ambitions to land the job on a permanent basis but the governing body took another four weeks to appoint Hallgrimsson

Hallgrimsson’s first game in charge will be the Nations League contest against England in Dublin on 7 September and his side then host Greece in the competition three days later.

FAI director of football Canham praised O’Shea’s contribution during his interim role which saw the former Manchester United defender achieve a win and a draw in four friendlies.

“I also want to thank and pay tribute to John O’Shea and his staff who have guided the team through recent friendly internationals preparing the team impeccably, creating a brilliant environment for the players and achieving positive results on the pitch,” said Canham.

Following the defeat by Portugal, O’Shea called for clarity from the FAI on whether he remained in contention to land the job on a permanent basis, but the governing body took another four weeks to appoint Hallgrimsson.

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