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Coleman targets Wales exit after 2018 World Cup

Chris Coleman says he is unlikely to remain as Wales head coach after the 2018 World Cup campaign. Reuters/Adam Holt

Chris Coleman has started the countdown to the end of his time as Wales coach. The 46-year-old guided Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 – their best performance at a major international football tournament.

But soon after returning home from France, Coleman said that either just before or after the 2018 World Cup in Russia would be the right moment to leave.

"I am sure this will be my last campaign whether we qualify or not for Russia," he said.

Coleman, whose contract runs to the end of the next World Cup, took over as Wales head coach in January 2012 after the death of coach Gary Speed.

"That will be six or seven years in the job, which is a long time. So I think this will be my last hit at it so I will give it my best shot,” he added.

Wales have been drawn in Group D along with Austria, Serbia, Ireland, Moldova and Georgia. Coleman’s men play their first qualifier against Moldova on 5 September.

“I want to see this through,” he added. “There's success in this team, I think, because they're at a good age. But I'll certainly give everything I've got in this next campaign. I'll make sure they do."

Coleman, a former Wales international, has coached in Greece, Spain and England. He has spoken about the challenges and advantages of coaching abroad.

“I was a year out of work after managing Coventry City and I went to Greece,” he said. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me. The year out was good because it gave me the chance to think about myself and my approach inside and outside my job but the job in Greece meant I found out a lot about myself. I was out of a comfortable environment and I was asked different types of questions.”

Success with Wales has enhanced Coleman’s reputation. The team finished top of its group following wins over Slovakia and Russia. While those victories were embellished by slick counterattacking football, the last 16 success over Northern Ireland was notable for the tactical discipline. Wales then registered one of the shocks of the tournament beating favourites Belgium 3-1 in Lille.

The adventure ended in Lyon in the semi-final. Portugal coach Fernando Santos abandoned his side’s normal attacking flair to slow the game down and play defensively thereby denying Wales space behind the midfielders.

“In Greece, if you lose two or three games, it’s goodbye," said Coleman. "So there was that to contend with. And what I also didn’t realise when I went to Larissa in Greece was that I would be working for nothing! Because we didn’t get paid. That was another experience. But I worked with great people at Larissa.

“The time in Greece stood me in good stead for the Wales job. I’m glad I worked abroad and I would do it again because it made me better.”