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Friday, Dec. 25, 2009

Levein leaves Dundee United to lead Scotland

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Craig Levein has been confirmed as the new Scotland coach after Dundee United agreed Wednesday to release him.

News photo
Stepping up: Craig Levein speaks at a news conference on Wednesday in Glasgow after leaving Dundee United to become Scotland's new manager. AP PHOTO

"When I first got word of the SFA being interested in me being the manager, obviously I was very excited indeed," Levein said at his unveiling at Hampden. "It's difficult to express just how proud I feel being a Scotsman and having followed the national team all my life."

Levein had initially been unable to travel to Glasgow to sign a 2 1/2-year contract with the Scottish Football Association because Britain has been hit by icy temperatures and heavy snow over the past week, making road travel difficult.

"My job is to try to do the best job that I can for the country, to work as hard as I can to see if we can take Scotland back into, if possible, into the next qualifying campaign and see if we can qualify for the Euros," Levein said.

Levein added that he will consider welcoming Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor — banned earlier this year — back into the team.

The pair stayed up all night drinking with fans in the buildup to a World Cup qualifier and were subsequently dropped to the substitutes' bench for the team's 2-1 win over Iceland in April. The midfielder and goalkeeper were banned after being photographed making offensive hand gestures while on the bench.

"We're not a big nation. We need every top-quality player," Levein said.

Dundee United has appointed Peter Houston as caretaker manager for Saturday's Scottish Premier League match at Kilmarnock.

The club's chairman Stephen Thompson is unhappy that the SFA has taken so long to complete the deal but still wished Levein well in his attempt to guide Scotland to a first major championship since the 1998 World Cup.

"He has done a great job for us and leaves the team, and the club as a whole, in a much better position than it was when he arrived here," Thompson said.

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