This is not the end of the journey, insists Wales boss Chris Coleman

Published: Thursday 7th July 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Wales’ Euro 2016 journey is over but an immensely proud Chris Coleman believes the run to the semi-finals was just the beginning for his history-making squad.

Less than five years after being ranked 117th in the world, and following some extremely difficult times, Lyon bore witness to the biggest match in Welsh football history.

An inspiring and improbable journey in France saw Wales through to the last four of a major tournament for the first time, but Portugal proved too much of a hurdle to overcome on Wednesday.

A monstrous second-half Cristiano Ronaldo header was quickly followed by Nani prodding home and Coleman’s men were unable to muster the required response as they went down 2-0.

Sunday’s Stade de France finale against France or Germany may have evaded them, but Wales return home as heroes – with the chorus of songs that echoed long into the night a sign of the welcome that awaits them.

“I am immensely proud of them,” manager Coleman said. “I can’t tell them all how proud I am of the team. It’s incredible what they’ve done and how they’ve performed.

“To get to the semi-finals is amazing, but I think it’s the nature in which they’ve achieved that.

“The only game actually we didn’t do it was the England game, which we lost and we never really showed what we are, we never showed our identity.

“But the other games that’s what they’ve done and you can only ask someone of their best. That’s it.

“If you lose and you’ve given your best, that’s how it goes unfortunately.

“It was our turn to lose tonight but I told the players that whatever the end date was at this tournament, it is not the end for this group of players.

“They’ll be there a lot longer than I’ll be there as a manager, no doubt.

“This was another test for us tonight, another challenge. We didn’t come through it, but we’ve come through some big ones previously.

“We’ve faced all sorts of challenges as a squad and as a group, and they’ve come through every one.

“Tonight was one too far for us but I’ve told them all how proud I’m proud of them, the nation is proud of them.

“I think once they settle down a bit in the next day or two, they’ve got to be proud of themselves.

“We know what we’re good at, we won’t change what got us here in the first place.

“We have got to go into the next campaign with the same hunger and that we really focus on now. The same hunger and desire as we’ve had in this last two to three years.

“That’s what I’ve told them. I can’t tell you how proud I am – I am prouder of this team than any team I’ve ever been involved in because I know what they’ve sacrificed to get to this stage.

“When you give so much then you can’t give any more. Results are going to be what they’re going to be.

“I think they’ll probably end up going back to Cardiff to a nice welcome, and they deserve that.”

Wales have captured the imagination at Euro 2016, with their pride, passion and intensity underlining a bright and exciting future.

That mixture of attitude and aptitude means Coleman cannot fathom it taking another 58 years to reach a major tournament.

“It’s always been that, qualifying regularly,” he said when asked if regular tournament qualification was an achievable aim.

“There was a psychological barrier we needed to go through qualifying for the first one, given it had been so long.

“We’ve done that, we’ve sampled tournament football and there’s nothing like it. It’s the best experience you can imagine.

“It is such a healthy, positive vibe with all the game, people from all different countries. I’ve never seen anything that, never witnessed anything like that. I’ve absolutely loved it.

“We want some more of that, we need some more of that, so now the one thing that will stop us from doing it again is ourselves.

“We’re good enough. We have got to be hungry, we have to have the same hunger and desire, and that’s it. And then we’ll give the World Cup campaign a hell of a crack.”

Wales boss Coleman was gracious in defeat and hopes Portugal will now go onto win Sunday’s final.

The Stade de France encounter will be just their second ever major tournament final and head coach Fernando Santos does not care whether France or Germany lie in wait.

“Joy, immense joy for the players, my family, all the Portuguese people, everyone without any exception, for many Greek people who have been supporting me in this period,” the former Greece coach said.

“I need to thank them for all the support they have given me in this period, especially in the knockout stage.

“We have achieved the goal we set together two years ago here during my first match, in Saint-Denis.”

Published: Thursday 7th July 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search