New Wales Women boss announced as Rhian Wilkinson

Wilkinson represented Canada 183 times, playing in four World Cups, and has been assistant coach for England and Canada Credit: Football Association of Wales

The Football Association of Wales has announced Rhian Wilkinson as its new Wales Women head coach.

Wilkinson, who played for Canada 183 times, comes in on a three-year deal following the shock departure of Gemma Grainger, who left the job in January to manage previous World and European champions Norway.

FAW bosses say Wilkinson's appointments puts Wales Women "in the best place possible for qualification to next summer’s Euros and the period beyond".

Wales are chasing their first appearance at a major women's football tournament, having come agonisingly close to qualifying for the last World Cup.

Having been a coach since her retirement from playing in 2017, Wilkinson was most recently head coach of Portland Thorns, where her side won America's NWSL Championship in 2022.

She has, among other roles, been assistant coach for England, Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics and Canada at the 2019 Women's World Cup.

During an illustrious playing career, she also competed in four World Cups and three Olympic games.

Wales narrowly missed out on qualification for last year's Women's World Cup, losing in the play-off final. Credit: PA Images

Following her appointment, Wilkinson said: “It’s an incredible honour to be taking on the role of Cymru head coach.

"The team has gone from strength to strength in the last few years and I aim to build on that with our mission to qualify for next summer’s Euros and beyond.

"We have a group of players that are ready and deserve to be in major tournaments. I can’t wait to meet them and work with them."

She added: "My mother is Welsh, and I spent part of my childhood growing up in south Wales, so I’m excited to involve myself with the country’s culture and explore that part of my roots even further.”

The FAW confirmed Wilkinson will be in Dublin on Tuesday evening to watch Wales take on the Republic of Ireland in a friendly.

She will then take charge for the 2025 Women's Euros qualification campaign, which kicks off in April.

Wales will find out who they will play in that campaign on Tuesday, 5 March.

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During nearly three years in the role, Grainger took Wales to the brink of qualifying for the Women's World Cup in 2023, with a play-off final defeat against Switzerland denying them at the last hurdle.

She also oversaw a significant rise in the popularity of women's international football in Wales, with a record crowd of 15,200 fans at the Cardiff City Stadium for a match between Wales and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

FAW president Steve Williams said of the new appointment: “I am thrilled to welcome Rhian to the FAW as the women’s national team head coach.

"After the growth of the team in recent years, we now look forward to seeing that progress even further, as the team aims to put Wales on the world stage with major tournament qualification for the first time.”

Gemma Grainger left last month to manage Norway. Credit: PA Images

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