Chris Coleman has resigned from his position as Wales manager amid speculation he is set to take over at Championship club Sunderland.
Coleman’s reputation sky-rocketed after leading Wales – previously without a major tournament appearance since 1958 – to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, but he was unable to follow that up with qualification for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Wales were beaten by Republic of Ireland in their crucial final match of the qualifying campaign, and subsequent friendlies against France and Panama have proven to be Coleman’s last matches in charge.
Sunderland, who are bottom of England’s second tier following their relegation from the Premier League last season, have been without a manager since sacking Simon Grayson in October.
Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Jonathan Ford added fuel to talk that Coleman will become Sunderland boss by confirming the 47-year-old’s intention to return to club management.
“We are extremely disappointed to see Chris’ tenure as Wales manager come to an end,” Ford said of the former Fulham, Coventry City and Real Sociedad coach.
“The FAW and Wales as a nation will be eternally grateful for the job he has done over the last six years as national team manager, from travelling the length and breadth of Wales outside of the media spotlight to talk to players and supporters, to guiding us to the semi-finals of the European Championships.
“We wish Chris the very best of luck for the future as he returns to club management, a desire for which he has always been honest and open about.”
Coleman would be the Black Cats’ fifth permanent manager since March 2015.
He was given the Wales job in 2012, succeeding the late Gary Speed. Coleman initially struggled as Wales finished fifth in their qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup, losing 6-1 to Serbia along the way.
But the Swansea-born manager began to bring the best out of a squad headlined by Gareth Bale and ended the country’s 58-year wait for tournament football by leading the side to the European Championship in France.
Coleman’s men defied the odds to top a group that featured England, Slovakia and Russia, before a memorable victory over Belgium – in which Hal Robson-Kanu’s ‘Cruyff turn’ stole the show – earned a shock semi-final clash with Portugal.
Wales were beaten 2-0 by the eventual winners in Lyon, but their achievement capped a remarkable turnaround from being ranked 117th in the world in 2011 to a best of eighth under Coleman, to whom there are no immediately obvious successors.
Kit Symons, part of Coleman’s backroom team, has also left his role with Wales.