Steve Bruce during his time as Sheffield Wednesday manager. Photo: Action Images/Jason Cairnduff

LONDON – Newcastle United have appointed former Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce as their new head coach on an initial three-year contract, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.

Former Sunderland and Aston Villa boss Bruce, 58, replaces Spaniard Rafa Benitez, who left St James' Park at the end of his contract last month after failing to agree an extension with club owner Mike Ashley.

“I'm delighted and incredibly proud to be appointed as head coach of Newcastle,” Bruce told the club's website. “This is my boyhood club and it was my dad's club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family.

“There is a huge challenge ahead of us, but it's one that my staff and I are ready for. We'll roll our sleeves up and we'll be giving it everything from the off to ensure supporters have a successful team that they can be proud of.”

Bruce, who will be joined by coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, led former side Wednesday to 12th in the Championship (second-tier) last season after being appointed in January.

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager Benitez, who was unveiled as the head coach of Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang earlier this month, led Newcastle to 13th in the Premier League last season.

The 59-year-old joined Newcastle in March 2016 but failed to save them from relegation from the Premier League.

He remained in charge and immediately led them back up, then stabilized the club with a 10th-place finish in 2017-18. 

Reuters