Walsall Football Club are delighted to announce that club legend Dean Keates has returned to the Banks’s Stadium as our new First Team Manager.
Keates, who spent two spells with The Saddlers as a player, has signed a deal that will keep him at the Banks's until at least the summer of 2021, marking a second return and a third spell at his hometown club.
The club can confirm that we have paid a compensation package to National League side Wrexham, where Keates has been in charge, to bring the 39-year-old back to the Banks’s Stadium.
Keates made more than 200 appearances in his first spell with The Saddlers, making his professional debut against Plymouth Argyle in October 1996 and scoring 13 goals before signing for Hull City in 2002.
Keates returned to The Saddlers four years later following spells at Kidderminster Harriers and Lincoln City, becoming the side’s top scorer in our League Two title-winning season of 2006/07 under Richard Money.
Spells at Peterborough United and Wycombe Wanderers soon followed, before Keates signed for Wrexham in 2010, spending five years at the Racecourse Ground as a player prior to taking the managerial reigns in October 2016.
Keates leaves The Reds fourth in the National League table, after finishing 13th in 2016/17.
His final game for Wrexham was a 2-0 victory over local rivals Chester last Sunday, and under Keates The Reds have kept 20 clean sheets this season – a club record – and are currently on a 13-game unbeaten run having lost just six games this season.
“I’m delighted to come back,” Keates told Saddlers TV in his first interview since signing his contract.
“I finished my career and learned my trade, coaching at a university linked to Wrexham and then had the opportunity for the last 14 months to be a manager there.
“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 hometown and that’s a big thing for me.”
“Dean was our number one target and we are delighted to welcome him back to the Banks’s Stadium,” said Chief Executive Stefan Gamble.
“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, and we wish them all the best for the rest of their season.”