Jayne Ludlow: Wales manager leaves role

Jayne Ludlow celebrates Wales' World Cup qualifying draw against England at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium in 2018
Jayne Ludlow managed Reading before becoming Wales manager. During her playing career she spent 13-years with Arsenal.

Jayne Ludlow has left her job as manager of Wales' women.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) says Ludlow has departed the role she has held since 2014 by mutual consent.

The FAW says there will now be a "thorough recruitment process" to select the 42-year-old's successor.

"My time as the national team manager has been an eventful and exciting journey," Ludlow said. "It has been an honour and an absolute pleasure to have worked with the staff and players."

Ludlow, who is the only manager to have taken charge of more than 50 Wales women's matches, leaves having taken Wales close to major finals qualification in their last two campaigns.

However, Wales fell short chasing a World Cup and European Championship berth, despite their progress.

The ex-Arsenal player says she has taken a role on a Fifa leadership team, but it is understood she is also free to now pursue other management opportunities.

Ludlow is not a candidate to be England's interim manager.

Phil Neville has left his role as manager of England's women and is set to take over at David Beckham's Major League Soccer side Inter Miami.

The Football Association says it will "shortly confirm" an interim head coach until Sarina Wiegman's arrival in September.

Both Ludlow and Neville's departures were announced at the same time, but the FAW say that was coincidental.

"It has been a fantastic learning environment for me personally and I am proud of what we have achieved over the last six years as a group of staff and players, whom I want to thank," Ludlow added.

"I am looking forward to the next challenges, one of which is an exciting opportunity I have to be part of a technical leadership team at Fifa."

'Huge progress'

FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford says Ludlow has helped to grow the women's game in Wales.

"Jayne has played a huge part in the progress of the women's game in Wales over the past six years, managing the side through three qualification campaigns," Ford said.

"The 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup qualifying campaign enhanced the profile of the game throughout the country, inspiring young girls across Wales to play football for the first time.

"Off the field Jayne has been a role model for the women's game in Wales, regularly visiting schools across the country and attending the National Eisteddfod to inspire future generations.

"We thank Jayne for all her hard work, dedication and vast contribution to Welsh football both on and off the field. We wish her well in the future."

Two near misses

Wales twice came close to reaching a play-off for a first major finals, finishing second to England in World Cup qualifying in 2018, a campaign which saw Ludlow's side go 687 minutes without conceding a goal.

Ludlow's side were also edged out by Northern Ireland in European Championship qualifying in 2020, losing out on a head-to-head record after two draws with Kenny Shiels' side.

Northern Ireland advanced to a play-off ahead of Wales as Group C runners-up despite Ludlow's side having a goal difference superior by 12, thanks to a 2-2 qualifying draw in Wales compared with a 0-0 stalemate in Belfast.

"I wish the squad well in the future and I feel that qualification for a first major final is not far away," Ludlow said.

Reaction

BBC Wales football correspondent Rob Phillips: Jayne Ludlow's departure is a massive loss to the Football Association of Wales. It is difficult to overstate the influence Ludlow has had in enhancing Welsh women's football.

The statistical truth of two near misses in for major tournament finals, ignores an even more important legacy - the increased profile of the women's game in Wales. As a player and a manager, Ludlow has served her country well. For the FAW, these are tough shoes to fill.

Jess Fishlock, Wales' most capped player: I am Sad. I was Sad when Jarmo (Matikainen) left, I am sad now Jayne has left. So many memories .. tears, laughs, arguments, high fives. Some unbelievable moments. We are a better nation for you Jayne Ludlow. Thank you, Diolch.

Helen Ward, Wales' record scorer: Diolch, Jayne. The last six years has seen people stand up and take notice of 'little old Wales'. Thank you for the good times, and the not so good times that have ultimately helped us learn and grow as a group and individuals.

Natasha Harding, Wales forward: I'm gutted. Done so much for us as a nation and has given us a solid platform to build on. The past six years have been different but special. Truly an honour. Thank you Jayne.