Video: David Healy honoured to take reins at his beloved Linfield
Northern Ireland's record goalscorer David Healy has described his decision to take the vacant managerial post at Linfield as "a no-brainer".
Healy, who scored 36 goals for his country and played club football for Manchester United, Leeds United and Rangers, signed a two-and-a-half-year deal to manage the Belfast side he supported as a boy.
Healy was unveiled to the Blues supporters before last night's 1-0 defeat to Ballinamallard United at Windsor Park in the JBE League Cup ahead of a press conference this morning. Although Andy Todd was still officially in charge, Healy appeared on the bench midway through the second-half.
Healy said: "It was a no-brainer for me. For me to be manager of this football club, a team I came and watched when I was a young boy with my dad, is an honour and a privilege.
"People might say, 'well you said that about going to watch Rangers and Northern Ireland', but for me it is a great honour. When Linfield approached me, there was only going to be one answer and that was yes."
Healy and Windsor Park's respective histories are intertwined. A young Healy watched the Blues from the stadium's terraces while in return he scored some of the south Belfast ground's most famous goals. His strike against England in 2005 is written into the collective memory of the entire province.
"It's a famous ground and very special to me. To English players, Wembley is magnificent, but for me Windsor Park is my Wembley. To come back here as a manager and oversee what has already been put in place fills me with enthusiasm," he said.
"I can't wait to get started and hopefully bring more success to an already very successful football club."
Healy might know Windsor Park, but does he know the Irish League? He may be adored, but the Linfield faithful will still demand success.
"Sometimes when a new manager comes in, there is doom and gloom and the team is struggling, but this is different. I'm coming in to manage a team that's second in the league on goal difference," he said. "I'm fully aware of the responsibilities of being manager of Linfield and what goes with that, and it's something I can't wait for.
"I will maybe speak to other people who have been involved at the club, maybe David Jeffrey who was here for a very long time, Noel Bailie who is a legend here, just to get their thoughts. I've done all my coaching badges with David and he has always said anything I need, he'd be there."
When Warren Feeney left for League Two club Newport County last week, there was a genuine sense of disappointment among the Linfield support. Feeney's premature departure left many hanging questions. A story half-told. Healy's lengthy deal suggests he's in it for the long haul.
"I'm grateful to the club for showing a lot of faith in me. I'll be working 24/7 on bits and pieces and looking to improve the team and club as a whole. Who knows, at the end of the two and a half years, I'll maybe stay here a lot longer," he added.
"I can only give 100 per cent and hopefully with my experience of playing in England and working under good managers, it will benefit the club.
"People say, 'well he doesn't know the Irish League'. Of course I know the Irish League. I've been working with a lot of our younger players so I have seen games. I'm ready to get my teeth into it. To say I'm excited is an understatement."