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From playing in Roosendaal in the Netherlands and Antwerp in Belgium to coaching Najran in Saudi Arabia, it has been a well-travelled journey in football for Nicky Hayen.

Pembrokeshire, Wales is the next destination for the 41-year-old after he was unveiled as JD Cymru Premier side Haverfordwest County's new manager and technical director in December.

It was a left field appointment from the Bluebirds following the departure of Wayne Jones - something which chairman Rob Edwards said it may appear to many - but UEFA Pro Licence holder Hayen was the standout candidate in the club's recruitment process.

And after holding positive talks with Edwards, Hayen - who will become the first Belgian to manage in the JD Cymru Premier - felt a move to Wales was the right step for him to take in his coaching career.

"Someone contacted me asking if I would be interested in taking up a job in Wales," said Hayen.

"He brought me in contact with the chairman and from the first call that we had together we were on the same page. I liked his ambition and project, so we had some more conversations and it became more interesting for both sides.

"I have watched a lot of different games and started learning about the teams and players, firstly our team but also the opposition."

Hayen brings a wealth of experience to the Bluebirds having made more than 250 appearances in the Belgian Pro League with Sint-Truiden and OH Leuven. 

A stint in the Dutch second division with RBC Roosendaal followed before a knee injury forced him to call time on his playing days prematurely during a spell with Verbroedering Dender.

He has since held coaching roles in Belgium and Saudi Arabia but now wants to embed himself in Welsh culture.

"You have to respect and appreciate the local culture and this is what I am going to do in Wales," he added.

"I will add some of my own values but will never forget the value and the club's culture. It's a really nice journey so far with lots of ups and downs but I'm a manager who has both feet on the floor and I know what my strengths are, but also what I have to improve.

"I will always be respectful to everyone and will work to achieve things and hopefully I can to do that at Haverfordwest."

Hayen is well aware of the challenge ahead as he looks to keep Haverfordwest, who have endured a difficult campaign, in the top flight this season.

The Bluebirds sit in the JD Cymru Premier relegation zone - a point behind 10th-placed Aberystwyth Town - but Hayen is "satisfied" with his first impressions of his new squad.

"I told the lads during my introduction that when you have fear you will lose games and that's what you can see from some of the previous games they've played in," added Hayen.

"This is what we have to improve and play with confidence, a good mentality and with courage. The ambition of the chairman was clear that we have to avoid relegation this season for the project to continue.

"I'm looking forward to achieving this and we're all hungry so we want to show that on the pitch."

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