Saturday, July 13, 2024

Heimir Hallgrímsson appointed as new Ireland boss –

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Heimir Halgrimsson has claimed that Ireland have ‘underperformed’ in recent years as the FAI moved to appoint him as senior international boss.

Hallgrímsson, who has previously managed Iceland and Jamaica, will lead the team in the upcoming UEFA Nations League and FIFA World Cup 2026 campaigns.

Under his leadership, Iceland reached the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2016, famously defeating England in the process, and qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Most recently, he guided Jamaica to qualification for the Conmebol Copa America 2024, improving their FIFA ranking from 64th to 53rd.

Hallgrímsson is set to lead Ireland in his first competitive match this September against England in the UEFA Nations League.

In an interview with FAI TV, Hallgrímsson expressed his excitement about joining the Irish team.

“It is an honour to be appointed Head Coach of the Ireland Senior Men’s National Team. Ireland is a proud footballing nation with a young and exciting team that has genuine potential. I am looking forward to working closely with the players to help them achieve improved performances and results, ensuring we qualify and compete at major tournaments regularly.”

When asked what excites him about coming to Ireland, he said, “First and foremost, it’s an exciting project. I think Ireland has underperformed a little in recent years. There’s a young, talented squad with a lot of international experience, and I think the future is here. Additionally, I really like the administration and their professionalism and how they treated me with respect. That really impressed me.”

Hallgrímsson also spoke about his initial thoughts on being considered for the role. “It was some time back. Like others who contacted me, I told them I would be focused on Copa America and we would decide after the Copa what to do. It was an honour to be considered as the next possible coach for the Republic.”

Regarding his upcoming first match against England, he remarked, “It’s similar to when I took over Jamaica. Our first game in five or six days was against Argentina. It’s always good to play the top teams as it exposes your weaknesses. It’s a tough game to start with, but it will be a big test. Hopefully, we will have a full house supporting the team, and you never know in football.”

He also drew parallels between Iceland and Ireland, saying, “There are many similarities between the Irish and Icelanders. Both are hardworking and honest people who enjoy life. When they have a drink or two, they start to sing. The values are similar, and I think we can do similar things on the pitch. There are essential elements needed in international football, and it will be exciting to see how much we can achieve initially. Of course, it will take time.”

Hallgrímsson discussed his plans for the team’s style of play, acknowledging the foundation laid by his predecessors.

“What has been done in the past by previous coaches has been helpful. They moved towards a more ball-possession type of football. John O’Shea took it back to basics, and we should always start from basics and build from there.”

He is also enthusiastic about working with the young talent in the squad.

“Yes, it’s not only a young squad with potential, but they also have a lot of international matches. That experience is crucial. Some players need one game, others need ten to become regular national team players. They all have a lot of games under their belt, which is fantastic for me.”

FAI Director of Football, Marc Canham, expressed confidence in Hallgrímsson’s appointment, noting his extensive experience and success in international football. “Heimir has significant experience at the international level with two different countries, and he aligns perfectly with our vision for the development of football in Ireland, including the progression of our underage international teams.”

Hallgrímsson is also keen on contributing to the overall development of Irish football. He mentioned, “I did that back in Iceland, in Jamaica, and in Qatar. I won’t interfere, but it would be nice to offer one or two new ideas. It worked back home in Iceland, so we can probably give some ideas here. It’s amazing to be a part of this, and there are many good things going on. Let’s hope we can make them all work together, so the first team will spark something as well.”

With a strong home and away support base, Hallgrímsson is eager to connect with Irish fans.

“This is unique, really unique. The Irish are hardworking and proud people, proud of their heritage. You can build a lot around hardworking, proud people. If you can implement some other aspects, the team should represent those characteristics on the pitch. I’m really looking forward to meeting the fans at the stadium.”

Hallgrímsson’s appointment marks a new chapter for Irish football as they prepare for crucial matches ahead. The official unveiling and press conference will take place on Thursday at the Aviva Stadium.

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