Cardiff - Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to the Premier League on Thursday when he was hired as manager of struggling Cardiff.
The 40-year-old Solskjaer left Molde in his native Norway to take over on a rolling contract at the Welsh club, which is 17th in the 20-team Premier League — a point and a place above the relegation zone.
"I felt I needed to be back here," Solskjaer said of his return to British football, where he spent 11 years with United and scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich. "And I want to stay for the long, long term.
"I wish I was 25 again and playing in the Premier League," he added. "Time ticks for everyone so I can't, now I'm a lucky man to be a manager in the Premier League."
Solskjaer replaced Malky Mackay, who was fired last week after losing a power struggle with the Welsh club's Malaysian owner, Vincent Tan. Mackay had guided Cardiff into English football's top division for the first time in 51 years and also to the 2012 League Cup final, but his dealings in the transfer market in the offseason were criticized by Tan.
Solskjaer said he spoke to Alex Ferguson, his former manager at United, about taking over at Cardiff and described reports that Ferguson told him to reject the job because of Tan's interference as "absolute nonsense."
"He has wished me the best and given me some good advice as he always does," Solskjaer said of Ferguson.
Regarded as a so-called "super-sub" for his goalscoring turns off the bench and nicknamed by some as the "Baby-faced Assassin," Solskjaer was a lethal, predatory finisher for United from 1996-2007. He captured six league titles, two FA Cups and scored the winning goal in injury time in one of the most dramatic finishes to a European Cup final, which United won 2-1 at Camp Nou.
He retired in 2007 after failing to recover from a serious knee injury, but remained at United in a coaching and ambassadorial role and went on to become the club's reserve-team manager.
He coached Molde from 2011, winning back-to-back titles in his first two seasons and then the Norwegian Cup in his third.
Solskjaer was linked to jobs in the Premier League at Aston Villa and Blackburn last year, but stayed in Norway for family reasons.
However, he was immediately installed as favorite to succeed Mackay after the Scot was fired on Friday and held talks with Tan and chairman Mehmet Dalman at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on Wednesday before the team's match against the Premier League leaders.
"I think it's the right step," Solskjaer said. "It's the step for me now to get different challenges and Cardiff, with what they've proved over the last three of four years, . that they are ready for the next step."
Dalman said Solskjaer was the "only one name in my head from the very beginning."
Solskjaer's first game in charge of Cardiff will be against Newcastle in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday. He will return to Old Trafford on Jan. 28 for a league match against United.