Speed couldn't resist Wales opportunity INTERVIEW

New Wales boss Gary Speed admitted the opportunity to manage his country was too good to turn down after being unveiled as John Toshack's successor this afternoon.

The 41-year-old was given permission yesterday by Sheffield United to speak to the Football Association of Wales after they identified him as their preferred candidate.

"It's something that's very difficult to turn down when your country comes calling. I'm a very proud man at this moment to be asked to be the manager of Wales," Speed said after being presented to the media at a press conference at the Vale of Glamorgan hotel.

On his departure from Bramall Lane, he said: "These things happen in football, where the timing's not always great.

"I was disappointed to leave Sheffield United because I feel I had a job to do there and was fully committed but obviously when your country comes calling it's a tough decision you have to make. I feel in my heart it's the right one.

"To be fair to them they've been fantastic throughout and made the decision really easy for me.

"I'd like to thank Sheffield United for the opportunity I've been given there both as a coach under Kevin Blackwell and then as a manager."

Looking ahead, Speed is relishing the task of getting the best out of Wales' young players.

"I think that's the part of the job which I'm really looking forward to," he said. "The group of players we've got, they're of an age where they can be together for a long time and improve and grow for a long time.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of putting things in place to try to be successful."

The former Wales midfielder's aim is to make his country regular contenders to qualify for major events.

"I think we need to consistently compete on a world stage and not just come close to qualifying every now and again, every 12-15 years," he

said.

"It's my job to make sure the structure in Welsh football is such that we're consistently competing.

"As a player I've been part of campaigns where we've just missed out, but in between those campaigns there were gaps of eight to 10 years.

"It's my job to make sure this country develops in a way so we can consistently compete on a world stage."

CHIN UP: Stuart Dallas consoles Pablo Hernandez after missing a late penalty in the 1-0 defeat to Reading at Elland Road on Saturday. Picture: Tony Johnson.

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