Osian Roberts wants to 'leave a legacy' in charge of Morocco

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Osian Roberts
The influential Wales assistant coach will leave his role with the Dragons to become technical director of the Atlas Lions from September 1

New technical director of the Moroccan national team, Osian Roberts, believes the opportunity to create something special with the African nation was his reason for stepping down as assistant coach of Wales.

The popular coach, who has been involved with the Welsh coaching setup since 2010, was credited with the Dragons’ semi-final run at Euro 2016.

Furthermore, the fan-favourite successfully oversaw the development of national team stars like Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, while playing a huge part in the progression of youngsters Ethan Ampadu, Ben Woodburn and others to the senior team.

Be that as it may, Roberts felt it was the right time to leave the Wales setup, especially as the challenge of building something exciting with the Atlas Lions couldn’t be passed up.

“They told me 'Come in and build something special for us, leave a legacy'. That appeals to me because it's what I have done here,” Roberts told Wales Online.

"I'm not leaving Wales because of anything negative, or anything like that. This time it just felt right, the challenge is one that really excites me.”

The 54-year-old revealed how a call from the Royal Moroccan Football Federation hierarchy convinced him of the need to take the role of reviving Moroccan football after the senior team’s poor outing at the Africa Cup of Nations, which followed recent failures of the youth teams.

"It's kind of just happened very quickly. I was in Armenia doing technical analysis of UEFA's under-19s tournament when the Moroccan FA President made contact, invited me over for a chat," he added.

"We had great discussions, I got to see the country and he invited me back on Tuesday to put something definitive together.

"I was still a little open-minded, but as things were put into place it became clearer and clearer this was a great opportunity I simply couldn't turn down.

"I've got a blank sheet of paper because they've not done well the last few years. The first team under-achieved at the African Cup of Nations, the under-17s and under-19s didn't qualify for their tournaments.

The experienced coach went on to state the enormous effort of adaptability he’ll have to put in to implement his methods on African soil.

“"I can't just cut, copy and paste the Wales model I've helped build up and transport it over to Africa. It's a completely different culture, a very different challenge. But building a national team's department appeals for sure, although it will require lots of details to make it work," he continued.

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"I've got autonomy, I will be out on the grass coaching as much as I want, my first job will be to appoint the new national head coach. These responsibilities do appeal.

"Everything is in place. They just need a strategy to develop the teams and I've been tasked with that. The opportunity to try something similar on the continent of Africa intrigues me."

Roberts will resume in his new position at the start of September.