Former Premier League striker Shefki Kuqi has become the first person to throw his name into the ring for the vacant AFC Fylde job.
The 42-year-old former Sheffield Wednesday, Crystal Palace and Ipswich Town man is actively looking for management roles in England, where he spent 10 years of his playing career.
Kuqi, famed for his trademark ‘swan dive’ goal celebration, has spent three years managing in his native Finland.
But the former striker, who played for 10 different clubs in England, has set his eyes on the manager’s job at Mill Farm recently vacated by Dave Challinor.
Kuqi told The Gazette: “I’m looking for a job in the UK.
“I had a couple of years experience as a manager in Finland but I played most of my career in England, which is the next place where I want to coach.
“Obviously as a manager you always want the best and you want to manage at the highest level possible.
“But I understand the situation and there is a lot of competition in any league from the Championship downwards.
“For me it’s about working somewhere and proving myself to show people what I can do.
“I know a little bit about AFC Fylde. I know they have an ambitious owner and that’s what I’m looking for with my next job.
“I want somebody I can work alongside who wants to move forward and wants a higher position. That’s what interests me.
“I’ve gone through a lot as a player and also during a short time as manager as well, but England is where I want to be because I know the leagues well.
“In England you have to understand the mentality and the attitude.
“I know the area quite well, seeing as I played for Blackburn and Stockport.
“I know England because it’s a place me and my family enjoy.”
Kuqi has been frustrated in his attempts to coach in the UK, having unsuccessfully applied for vacant jobs with former clubs Ipswich and Swansea City.
Now the Finn is prepared to drop down to non-league to get his coaching career kickstarted. Kuqi earned himself a reputation in Finland for helping to stabilise clubs in the grip of financial troubles.
He started his management career by keeping FC Honka in the Premier League before winning the Championship play-offs with PK-25.
Kuqi, who was also capped 62 times by his country, would then join FC Inter Turku six months later, again defying the odds to keep them in the top flight before leaving in 2017.
He added: “It went really well, so in my short time as a coach I’d like to think I’ve been quite successful.
“I do understand it’s in a different country but at the end of the day, whatever country you’re in you’re facing the same problems.
“I had a few interviews in England but last-minute things changed, which is understandable.
“I just have to keep believing in myself and hope the right opportunity comes.”
AFC Fylde have made no comment on their managerial situation since Saturday’s announcement that Challinor had been sacked after virtually eight years in the job.
National League rivals Barrow revealed on Monday that an approach from the Coasters to speak to their manager Ian Evatt, the former Blackpool defender, had been rejected.
Kuqi’s younger brother Njazi had a loan spell at Blackpool in 2006,