Charlotte FC name Dean Smith head coach

Dean Smith - Charlotte FC manager

Charlotte FC have appointed Dean Smith as head coach, the club announced Tuesday, handing the former Premier League manager a multi-year contract.

Smith, 52, recently led Norwich City and Leicester City. He's most renowned for guiding Aston Villa back to the Premier League in 2019.

“Dean is a well-respected manager with over a decade of professional coaching, including at the highest level of the game in the Premier League, and we’re delighted to welcome him to Charlotte FC,” sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a statement.

“He has a proven track record of sporting success across multiple levels of professional football and his man-management style will be welcomed by our locker room. Dean’s excited to hit the ground running in Charlotte and we look forward to welcoming him and his family soon.”

During Aston Villa's promotion-winning campaign, Smith broke a 109-year club record with 10 successive victories. He helped bring the likes of Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martínez and Matty Cash to Aston Villa, and was named Premier League Manager of the Month in December 2020.

Smith, who’s also managed Brentford and Walsall in his native England, has worked across the top three flights in England’s soccer pyramid. His managerial tenure followed a distinguished 16-year playing career with over 500 appearances.

“I’m honored to be appointed as the next head coach of Charlotte FC and cannot wait to start preparations for the 2024 season,” Smith said in a statement. “Throughout the interview process, it was clear that this is an ambitious club with the right ingredients for success and I’m delighted to begin a new chapter in Charlotte.

“This is a unique opportunity to be part of a project with so much potential to take to new heights in Major League Soccer.”

Smith is Charlotte’s third head coach in as many seasons, following in the footsteps of Miguel Ángel Ramírez and Christian Lattanzio.

The Queen City-based club missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2022 as an expansion team, then qualified as the Eastern Conference’s No. 9 seed in 2023. They exited in the Wild Card round at New York Red Bulls, then parted ways with Lattanzio early last month.

Charlotte's star player is Poland international forward Karol Świderski, who's been linked with an outbound transfer this winter. Świderski, winger Kamil Jóźwiak and striker Enzo Copetti are all DPs. Club captain Ashley Westwood was a longtime Premier League midfielder, previously playing at Aston Villa and Burnley.