Chris Coleman has been confirmed as the new manager of Wales.

The 41-year-old former Wales defender succeeds Gary Speed who died in November at the age of 42.

Coleman began his managerial career with Fulham in 2003, spending four years at Craven Cottage before having spells at Spanish club Real Sociedad, Coventry and Greek club Larissa, who he left earlier this month.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said in a statement: "This has been a very difficult process.

"We have explored every avenue, every scenario possible. We have taken on board the thoughts and views of the backroom staff, the players and the supporters.

"All along we believe that we have been respectful and dignified and had no wish to be involved in a public debate on the appointment of Gary's successor.

"Gary was the manager of Welsh football and of course we want to continue his legacy. He was not a figurehead, he was the manager and that is why we have decided on the appointment of Chris Coleman to build on the excellent foundations put in place by Gary."

Coleman admitted it was a "bittersweet" feeling for him to take over Wales following the death of his good friend Speed.

"Whilst on one hand it's probably the proudest moment of my career to be given the opportunity to lead my country, but then to be given that opportunity because of the circumstances nobody could foresee, so it's bittersweet for me, of course it is," he said at a press conference in Cardiff.

"I was very close friends with Gary, 30 years, so it's a difficult experience for me. It's probably the most difficult press conference I've ever done or ever had to do I imagine.

"But I'm very proud to be the new manager and I'm also very sad because of the situation we find ourselves in."

The FAW will be hoping that Coleman can continue the progress that Wales had made with Speed in charge, with the Dragons winning four of their final five games during the former midfielder's tenure before his death in November.

That run of results moved Wales into the world's top 50 and earned them the tag of 2011's highest climbers in the FIFA rankings.

Coleman added: "It's not just the wins but the philosophy and style of play and I think we all agree it's refreshing and we've enjoyed it.

"It was always going to be difficult for the next Wales manager, whoever it was going to be, because of the situation. I think it's even more difficult for me because of my relationship with Gary.

"I've already spoken with the FAW members this morning and I said 'excuse me if I don't seem that excited, I am excited, I'm just a little bit subdued because of the circumstances'.

"It won't be easy but I'm looking forward to it."

Chris Coleman factfile:

1970: Born, June 10.

1986: Signs for Manchester City.

1987: Joins Swansea on free transfer.

1991: Joins Crystal Palace for £275,000.

1995: Joins Premiership champions Blackburn for £2.8million.

1997: Joins Fulham, then in the third tier of English football and managed by Kevin Keegan, for a club record £2million.

2001: January - Suffers the serious injuries that eventually cut short his playing career in a horrific car crash.

2002: May 14 - Despite only playing reserve-team club football, Coleman features as a late substitute for Wales in 1-0 friendly win over Germany.

October 2 - Announces retirement as a player after failing to recover full fitness. Joins Fulham coaching staff and also takes up a similar role with Wales.

2003: April 17 - Takes temporary charge at Fulham following departure of Jean Tigana.

May 15 - Promoted from caretaker manager to manager on a one-year rolling contract after steering the team clear of relegation.

2004: May - Guides Fulham to ninth place in the Premiership.

2005: May - Fulham finish 13th in the Premiership.

2006: May - Fulham finish 12th in the Premiership.

2007: April 10 - Sacked by Fulham and replaced by Lawrie Sanchez on a caretaker basis after seven-game winless run leaves club just four points clear of Premiership drop zone.

June 28 - Appointed Real Sociedad manager.

2008: January 16 - Steps down at Sociedad despite his team losing just one of their previous 11 matches. Claims the resignation of president Maria de la Pena provoked his decision.

February - Appointed Coventry manager, signing a three-and-a-half-year deal.

May - Leads the team to survival in the Championship despite a 4-1 defeat to Charlton on the last day of the season.

2009: May - Coventry finish in 17th place.

2010: May 2 - Again leads Coventry to survival, finishing 19th - their lowest league position for 45 years.

May 4 - Sacked by Coventry in the wake of the 4-0 home loss to Watford on the final day of the season.

2011: May 26 - Appointed Larissa manager, signing a one-year deal with the Greek club, with an option of a further two years.

2012 : January 9 - Resigns as Larissa manager, citing financial problems at the club.

January 15 - Confirms he is in talks with the Football Association of Wales about becoming national team manager following the death of Gary Speed.

January 19 - Coleman is presented as the new Wales manager.