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Craig Gardner to become first-team coach at Birmingham

Craig Gardner is to become first-team coach at Birmingham in July once he has retired from playing at the end of the season.

The boyhood Blues fan, who has also played for Aston Villa, West Brom and Sunderland during his 15-season career, has played for City in two spells, chalking up 125 appearances and 16 goals from midfield.

Gardner is currently a player/coach under Birmingham boss Pep Clotet, although he has made just one appearance this season in skippering City in a 3-0 Carabao Cup defeat at Portsmouth in early August.

Looking ahead to his new role, Gardner told Birmingham’s website: “It’s exciting and a real honour.

“When you are a kid you dream about becoming a footballer. To play for the team you support, in the Premier League, win a cup, to finish your footballing career here and then to start a new chapter as a coach, I couldn’t have wished for more.

“To be given this opportunity is a privilege and this club is a great place to be.”

Gardner, who turned 33 on Monday, does not believe he is too young to give up his playing career, and is confident on having an impact on the players coming through.

“People say ‘You’re only 33. You can continue to play at a good standard’,” added Gardner, who won the League Cup with City in 2011.

“Is that what I want now? I want to be part of this club. You can see over the past four or five months what the club wants to do – what the club is doing.

“The owners and the board, everyone is putting a lot of positives in.

“The way we are training and preparing with Pep, Paco Herrera, Xavi Calm, Darryl Flahavan and the staff, everyone is on board.

“It is a great place to be around. Everyone is buzzing every single day. The players are smiling, they are happy – you can see that on the pitch as well.

“I have enjoyed my career, every bit of it. Now I want the players to enjoy theirs.

“I will give every single thing I can to help them do that and to help them improve and get this club back where we should be.”