IAN RUSH has put club before country for at least the next three years.
But his reward from mega-ambitious chairman Stephen Vaughan is a target of at least a play-off place - in his first season as a manager!
The Chester chairman confirmed yesterday that Rush had not only asked to be dropped by the Welsh FA from their short-list for the national team manager's job, but had signed an extension to his current Chester deal keeping him at the Deva Stadium for the next three years.
"It was a difficult decision," admitted Rush, "but I am still learning my trade.
"And I have been very lucky to have a chairman who actually just lets us get on with it. He told me he just wants to come in, see the team win and go home! When you have someone like that with you, you have half a chance.
"The results we have had this season have probably come at the right time to convince the FAW to put me on their short-list. Because I am a proud Welshman it's my dream to manage my country, but I played for Chester and it was also a dream to manage Chester."
Vaughan confirmed: "The stability is there now. He has committed his future to the club - and the pressure is on him now because we want to be promoted this year, we want a run in the FA Cup and the LDV Vans Trophy. It's over to Ian!"
Vaughan was speaking with his tongue only slightly in cheek.
"We have played our second string sides in the LDV Cup and our progress shows we have a lot of strength in depth," he added. "We have a top manager, a top assistant - and if our form under those two had stretched back to the start of the season we would have been running away with the championship.
"Obviously when his country expressed interest in him, there was genuine concern that we might lose Ian, but he has a big job to do here.
"There's no doubt we have given him a break, and he has repaid us by signing an extension to his current contract.
"It was a bold decision when we appointed him in the first instance, but it has paid dividends for us already."
Chester were rock bottom of Football League Two when Rush took over. A remarkable run of form since then has seen them rise to 17th - just three points off the play-off places.
Second-placed Leyton Orient are visitors on Saturday, and another impressive result would reinforce Vaughan's promotion dream - and establish Rush's managerial credentials even further.
"I used to get annoyed when people thought I had been away from the game for five years and come into management from nowhere," said Rush..
"I have been studying for my pro licence, I have been manager of Wales under-17 team and I was a part-time coach at Anfield under Gerard Houllier.
"When people say I had no experience I would disagree. My only lack of experience was as a league manager."
And he is quickly showing that lack of experience is no bar to instant success.