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Rhian Wilkinson: Wales Women appoint former England assistant as head coach | Football News

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Wales have appointed former England and Team GB assistant Rhian Wilkinson as the new head coach of their women’s team.

The 41-year-old won 183 caps for Canada between 2003 and 2017 and coached most recently at American club Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League.

She has joined Wales on a contract until 2027 and succeeds Gemma Grainger, who ended her three-year reign last month to take charge of Norway.

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.

“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.”

Wilkinson spent seven years of her playing career at Team Strommen in Norway and represented Canada at four World Cups and three Olympic Games.

She won bronze medals at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016 before coaching Canada Women’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams and working as an assistant in the senior set-up.

Wilkinson was also Hege Riise’s assistant for the England and Great Britain women’s Olympic teams in 2021.

In 2022, she was appointed head coach of Portland Thorns, whom she led to the NWSL title in her sole season in charge.

Wilkinson offered her resignation in December of that year after admitting she had “shared feelings” with a player. She was cleared of any wrongdoing by the NWSL but intimated that she had been asked to leave by the players.

Football Association of Wales president Steve Williams said: “I am thrilled to welcome Rhian to the FAW as the women’s national head team 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.”

Wilkinson will attend Wales’ friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday and is set to take charge for the first time during the April international window.

The two games in that window will mark the start of the Euro 2025 qualifying campaign, with Wales discovering their opponents at draw in Switzerland on March 5.

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