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Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson to coach Welsh women's soccer team

Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson has been named coach of the Wales women's team.

Wilkinson, a Canada Soccer Hall of Famer, won 181 caps for Canada in a distinguished playing career that stretched from 2003 to 2017. The defender went on to coach the Canadian under-18 and under-20 teams, served as an assistant coach to Kenneth Heiner-Moller with the senior women's team and was an assistant coach with England's Lionesses.

Wilkinson coached the Portland to the 2022 NWSL title, stepping down five weeks later.

She said the Thorns players had asked for her resignation and she complied, despite being investigated and cleared of wrongdoing by the NWSL and its players union after she self-reported that she and a player had developed feelings for one another but had never acted upon them.

Wilkinson succeeds Gemma Grainger, who quit in January to take charge of Norway, at the helm of the 32nd-ranked Welsh women.

"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," Wilkinson said in a statement. "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.”

The Football Association of Wales said Wilkinson, who will be in Dublin for Wales' match Tuesday against Ireland, will take charge during the April international window that marks the start of UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 qualifying.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2024.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press