Fylde coast football stalwart Alan Wright is starting a new chapter in his career as manager of Conference club Southport.
Wright, who has served Blackpool FC with distinction both on and off the field and ended his playing career at Fleetwood Town, replaces long-serving Liam Watson, who left Haig Avenue at the end of the season.
The 41-year-old will be taking another Blackpool and Fleetwood old boy as his assistant, John Hills.
Wright first made his mark with Blackpool before joining Blackburn Rovers and then clocking up over 300 appearances for Aston Villa.
He spent the final two seasons of his playing career at Highbury, retiring just months shy of his 40th birthday. Last season he assisted caretaker boss Steve Thompson at Bloomfield Road and also worked at the Blackpool centre of excellence.
He had a brief taste of management as caretaker at Northwich Victoria last year.
Wright said: “I am very enthusiastic about going into management.
“Southport has real potential and we will go forward together. As a player I had to be ultra determined and I will be the same as a manager.
“I believe in playing good football, on the ground and I really relish the opportunity to organise the club.
“I will be looking to blend what we already have with new signings – I enjoy coaching, scouting and youth development.”
“I have plenty of contacts and have started on those already. I am looking forward to meeting up with our supporters and providing success on the pitch.
“The Football Conference is a very testing, competitive league and I have the ambition for us to be at the top end of the table.
As for joining forces with again with Hills, Wright added: “ I am bringing in John as my number two. John is vastly experienced, having had three spells at Blackpool along with a playing career at Everton, Sheffield Wednesday and Gillingham.
“He is a top-class coach and knows the non-league scene via AFC Fylde and Fleetwood. I can’t wait for the season”
Sandgrounders’ chairman Charlie Clapham said: “Alan is a tremendous appointment.
“With his Premier League background at Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, he is a competitor and winner, qualities he will bring into the dressing room. As a UEFA A coach, he knows we have a number of potentially high-quality players who require coaching and nurturing.
“Alan will have the scope to strengthen the squad and we can all look forward to being very competitive in the Football Conference.
“He will add his profile to the club on and off the pitch. I believe these are very exciting times for the club.”