Confirmed: Dean Keates appointed Walsall manager
DEAN KEATES admitted he found the lure of returning to Walsall too strong after he signed a three-and-a-half year deal to become the club’s new manager.
The 39-year-old was the number one choice of the board to replace the sacked Jon Whitney and completed his move after the Saddlers agreed a compensation package with Wrexham.
Keates took charge of The Dragons in October 2016 and enjoyed a hugely successful spell at the Racecourse Ground.
After steering them clear of relegation trouble last season, he has left Wales with the club sitting fourth in the National League.
Last weekend the Welsh side also secured their 20th league clean sheet of the season, a club record.
But the chance to manage the team he supported as a boy was too good to turn down, with Keates – who is from Beechdale – admitting he is delighted to be back the club.
“I’m delighted to come back,” the manager said
“I’m from the area. I was on the terraces at Fellows Park and then at the Banks’s – I’m a fan of the club and it feels good to be back.
“I’m still learning my trade but everyone is learning their trade, no matter their age.
“This opportunity came up for me and it wasn’t something I could let pass by. It’s my home town and that’s a big thing for me.”
Keates will now be hoping he can replicate the success he enjoyed on the field with the Saddlers in the dugout.
As well as making more than 200 appearances for the club in two separate stints, he won promotion three times in 1999, 2001 and 2007.
And chief executive Stefan Gamble confirmed Keates was the man the board wanted following Whitney’s sacking.
“Dean was our number one target and we are delighted to welcome him back to the Banks’s Stadium,” he said.
“We received a number of impressive and credible applications but Dean was always at the forefront of our minds.
“It goes without saying that Dean made a huge impact in his two spells here as a player but this was not a decision based on emotion - we feel he is the best man to take the club forward.
“Dean’s work at Wrexham has been extremely impressive and their results this season underline his credentials as a manager. We would like to thank Wrexham for their professionalism throughout this process.”