Team Europe have dominated the Ryder Cup in recent years, winning nine of the last 12 biennial contests.
Harrington, 47, a three-time major victor who played on six European teams, takes over for Thomas Bjorn, who oversaw a rousing success in France in September when Europe defeated the Americans 16½ to 9½, a seventh victory in the last 10 Ryder Cups.
In 2018, the Irishman was one of Thomas Bjørn's vice-captains at Le Golf National but in 2020 he will make the step up to captain on American soil.
He will become the third Irish captain in four tournaments.
"There seems to be a natural progression, " Harrington said during a news conference at European Tour headquarters near London.
"I'm thrilled to be named as Ryder Cup captain for 2020, it's not something I went into lightly", he said.
'It does make my job easier that I feel I have the confidence of the players, ' Harrington added. "But it's not something that I take on without a certain amount of trepidation". We've had some great captains and I've learnt from all of them.
Harrington, a victor of two Open Championship titles and the US PGA Championship, has been named as Thomas Bjorn's successor for 2020.
Considered among the greatest to play the game, Woods got his first taste of Ryder Cup leadership by serving as a vice-captain to Davis Love III at Hazeltine in 2016 as a string of back issues blighted his illustrious career.
"He's the right man at the right time in his career".
"I know we are going to a new venue, it's an away match".
"Then it really came down to whether I wanted to be in the hat and put what is a successful career on the line, because you are putting it on the line when you become the Ryder Cup captain, it is a different element to your career".
However, Bookmakers have been quick to make U.S. favourites - although they are yet to confirm their skipper with the likes of Steve Stricker and Fred Couples in contention.
"I know it's tough to win in the States, " Harrington said.
Harrington himself is a 50/1 chance to qualify automatically for the team, while Sergio Garcia is an odds-on 1/3 shot to be part of Harrington's line-up, despite an infamous frosty relationship with the captain which was said to have improved after clear-the-air talks.
"He's got a lot of things in his favour, I think Thomas was blessed with the best European team we ever had in France, I think Pod will be blessed with an even better team than that".
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