The final Page as Rob’s Cymru era comes to an end

Rob Page’s time as Cymru head coach has come to an end.

A proud and passionate Welshman, Page was born and raised in the Rhondda Valley and made 41 senior appearances for Cymru as a defender between 1996 and 2005. He described captaining the team against Hungary on his 36th cap in February 2005 as “the pinnacle of my international career” when reflecting on the 2-0 win in Cardiff. Page was appointed Cymru U21 manager in 2017, and moved up to the senior team as assistant to Ryan Giggs in August 2019.

Page was appointed Cymru manager on an interim basis in November 2020 when he replaced Giggs. Over the next few months, Page would lead Cymru to promotion in the UEFA Nations League and to the delayed EURO finals where they progressed from the group before exiting at the Round of 16 with a defeat to Denmark.

Finishing in second place in their qualifying group for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Page guided his country to the finals in Qatar with a famous play-off victory against Ukraine. 

Following the 1-0 win in Cardiff, Page was appointed as manager on a permanent basis and signed a four-year contract that would cover EURO 2024 and the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“There is no bigger honour than coaching your national team and I can’t wait for the challenge the next four years will bring, starting with our first World Cup in 64 years,” he said at the time. “This is an exciting time for Welsh football and I hope we can make the country proud in November and continue our success by qualifying for more major tournaments in the future.”

However, despite reaching the world stage for the first time since 1958, the tournament would prove disappointing as Cymru finished bottom of their group with a single point. That tournament marked the end of a number of international careers, most notably that of midfielder Joe Allen and captain and talisman Gareth Bale, and it was clear that Page would need to regroup and rebuild his squad to move forward. With talented players emerging through the intermediate teams, new names would emerge ahead of the next qualifying campaign.

The focus on qualifying for the World Cup had seen Cymru relegated from League A of the Nations League. Despite finishing third in their qualifying group for EURO 2024, a campaign that included the highs of beating Croatia 2-1 and the lows of a 4-2 home defeat to Armenia, they were offered a second chance through the play-offs to book their place in Germany. An impressive victory over Finland in the semi-final was followed by a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Poland in Cardiff.

Page is the only manager in history to lead Cymru at the finals of two major tournaments, while his successful qualifying campaign to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup made him the first manager since another Rhondda native in Jimmy Murphy in 1958 to achieve that particular feat. He can look back on the success he delivered for his country in 2022 with great pride.

John Toshack was Cymru manager between 2004 and 2010, and during that period he sacrificed his own success to bring through a golden generation of stars who would later defy the odds at EURO 2016. Coleman reaped the rewards and continued the process by introducing the likes of Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks to the senior squad. Following the last World Cup, Page was tasked with replacing a number of senior players with the next generation, and the performances of teenager Jordan James in particular during the last campaign highlight the solid foundations Page has put in place for the future.

As Cymru now move in a new direction, the likes of Charlie Savage, Lewis Koumas, Charlie Crew and Fin Stevens have had their first taste of the senior international game through Page and will form an important part of the national team for the next decade or more. Like Toshack, Page’s contribution in this regard will not be realised for a number of years to come. A high standard has been set for Cymru in recent years, and while Page has played a key part in that, it is his successor who will now inherit that level of expectation. 

Learn more from FA Wales

Sign up to receive all things FAW, from team news, tickets, domestic, grassroots, to exclusive offers and prize draws.

We respect your privacy and are committed to protecting your personal data – view our privacy policy by clicking here.