HomeFootballHeimir Hallgrímsson succeeds Stephen Kenny as Ireland head coach

Heimir Hallgrímsson succeeds Stephen Kenny as Ireland head coach

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The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has appointed Heimir Hallgrímsson as the new head coach of its men’s team.

Hallgrímsson, the former Iceland and Jamaica manager, takes over 231 days after Stephen Kenny’s contract was not renewed following an unsuccessful Euro 2024 qualification campaign. John O’Shea had served as interim coach for four friendlies this year but his lack of experience worked against him being seriously considered for the position.

The 57-year-old’s first game in charge will be the Nations League opener against England on September 7th at the Aviva Stadium. Greece come to Dublin three days later.

“Ireland is rightly a proud footballing nation which has consistently produced talented players and enjoyed many memorable moments at major international tournaments,” said Hallgrímsson, who holds a press conference at the Aviva on Thursday afternoon.

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

In a surprise announcement on Wednesday afternoon, the FAI director of football Marc Canham stated that “earlier this year” Hallgrímsson was identified as the “number one candidate” to succeed Kenny. Canham stated last March that a new manager would be unveiled in April. This could not have been the Icelander as his Jamaica team qualified for the Copa America in November 2023.

The Reggae Boyz did not escape the Copa group stages following defeats to Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela, which saw Hallgrímsson part company after 27 matches in charge.

He previously co-managed Iceland alongside Lars Lagerback to a 2-1 victory over England in the Last 16 of Euro 2016 before guiding his country to the 2018 World Cup. He has also coached at club level to mediocre success in Iceland and Qatar.

Canham’s initial targets to replace Kenny are believed to be England under-21 coach Lee Carsley, Georgia manager Willy Sagnol and former Ireland international Chris Hughton.

“We have important and exciting games coming up in the Uefa Nations League later this year and a massive Fifa World Cup qualification campaign coming up next year,” noted Hallgrímsson.

“I am also looking forward to getting to know the people of Ireland and in particular the wonderful fans of Irish football. It is my responsibility to coach, prepare and develop our team as best as possible to deliver results on the pitch and to make our supporters happy and proud.”

Canham added: “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.”

Ireland under O’Shea beat Hungary, drew with Belgium but lost to Portugal and Switzerland. Hallgrímsson’s backroom team has yet to be confirmed but Canham has previously stated this could include the former Manchester United defender.

“This is a significant day for Irish football with the announcement of Heimir as our new head coach,” said David Courell, the interim FAI chief executive. “There has been huge interest in this appointment which ultimately is testament to how much people care about Irish football.

“We are delighted to have secured a head coach with the experience we were seeking but more importantly one that shares our vision for Irish Football. Heimir was the outstanding candidate, and I am hugely excited at what he brings to the role.”

Hallgrímsson’s overall record as an international manager, across 53 games with Iceland and Jamaica, is 21 wins, 12 draws and 20 defeats.

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