Joe Allen believes Gary Speed set Wales on the path to success

The former Dragons captain died at the age of 42.

Phil Blanche
Wednesday 10 November 2021 22:30
Gary Speed spent less than two years as Wales manager before his untimely death at the age of 42 (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Gary Speed spent less than two years as Wales manager before his untimely death at the age of 42 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Joe Allen says Wales are still benefiting from Gary Speed’s legacy as the 10th anniversary of his death approaches.

Friday marks 10 years since former captain Speed, who won 85 caps for Wales, managed his country for the last time – a 4-1 friendly win over Norway.

Speed died in 2011 aged 42 when he was discovered hanged at his home.

Gary Speed (left) pictured with Gareth Bale after Wales’ European Championship qualifying victory over Montenegro in September 2011 (Nick Potts/PA)

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years really,” Allen said.

“A lot of the lads still talk about Gary, the influence he had on us as young players back when he was manager.

“He revamped a lot of things, not just on the pitch but off it as well, and we’ve reaped the rewards of that.

“That’s one of the big reasons why Welsh football has been in such a healthy position over the past decade.”

Joe Allen has paid tribute to Gary Speed’s legacy on Welsh football with (PA)

Speed spent just under two years as Wales manager having been appointed in December 2010.

But the former Everton, Leeds and Newcastle midfielder has been credited for putting Wales, who were ranked 112 in the world at the time of his appointment, on the path to success.

Wales made their first major tournament appearance for 58 years at Euro 2016, reaching the semi-finals in France under Speed’s successor Chris Coleman.

The Dragons also qualified for the delayed Euro 2020 finals and made the round of 16 last summer.

Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 after Gary Speed had started the path to success (Joe Giddens/PA)

Allen said: “Gary will always be in our thoughts. He was part of the beginning of our road, first of all for Euro 2016 and everything that’s come since.

“It was a horrendous day. Obviously for anyone who knew him, but also for the world of football.

“It was very hard news to process, very saddening and very confusing.”

Wales conclude their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with home games against Belarus and Belgium in the next week and need four points to guarantee a play-off place in March.

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey says Gary Speed started Wales on the path to success (Nick Potts/PA)

As well as Allen and captain Gareth Bale who is set to win his 100th cap against Belarus on Saturday, Aaron Ramsey, Chris Gunter and Wayne Hennessey of the current squad also played under Speed.

Goalkeeper Hennessey said: “I try not to (remember that day). I just try to remember when he was smiling and seeing him on the sideline.

“He was a great leader for us and used to speak so well. I honestly think that was the start of the path that made us successful and where we are today.

“He was an amazing manager and he deserves credit for that. Once he became the manager he started a different route for us.

“We were going in the right direction. It was so sad to hear the news and I still get choked up about it a little bit now.”

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