After weeks of secrecy by the English Football Association, Pravda.ru is the first to reveal who is the new manager of the England team: Sven-Goran Eriksson, currently manager of Lazio in Rome, who he led to the Italian Championship last season. Eriksson has a contract with the Italian club until the end of June, 2001 and so he will take up the England post on 1st July. Kevin Keegan resigned after a disappointing Euro 2000 campaign and a home defeat by Germany at Wembley Stadium's last game before the stadium is demolished. Germany being England's arch-rival, this result was fatal for Keegan. The English Football Association has tried to keep the appointment a secret but contacts in Italy, close to Lazio, confirmed that Eriksson had been contacted by the English Football Association and that he was very enthusiastic about the job. Lazio has said it will not stand in Eriksson's way. Eriksson has had a successful club management career in his native Sweden, Portugal (twice with Benfica) and Italy, winning championships in all three countries. It is reported that he now considers the time is right to make the step towards an international career in football management. Certainly, the spotlight will be upon him : he is the first non-English manager of the England football team. Not even a Scot would have been accepted for this job: the all-successful Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, had been one of the first names mentioned in connection with the job but before he had been contacted, a spokesman from the England Supporters association made as a public declaration on television, stating that if a Scot was chosen to be the manager of England, most England fans would refuse to watch the games. Moments ago, David Davies, Executive Director of the English FA, said: We are aware of tonight's reports. Meetings have taken place over the last 24 hours with Sven-Goran Eriksson. The FA has discussed the possibility of him taking charge of the England side in the short-term and the long-term. We are building a team of young English managers to work with the senior coach. That is what England supporters want to see. The talks are continuing and they will resume in the near future. Eriksson's proven track record speaks for itself. The discussions have made real progress. We are very pleased with the progress we are making. Eriksson has nothing to prove to himself, but everything to prove for the England fans.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Lisbon/London