Ryan Giggs vindicated by Wales’s Euro 2020 progress, says Joe Allen

Ben Fisher
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters</span>
Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

Ryan Giggs’s critics should “eat their words” after the Wales manager led his country to Euro 2020 in his first qualifying campaign in charge, according to the midfielder Joe Allen. Wales mustered three points from their opening three qualifying matches but after victory over Hungary on Tuesday they are unbeaten in six matches and Wales are heading to a third major tournament finals.

Many supporters were sceptical about Giggs’s appointment last year, unconvinced the former Manchester United winger was the best candidate to replace Chris Coleman, who led Wales to a Euro 2016 semi-final, but Allen feels the decision has been vindicated.

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“The ambition and target was to get to the Euros,” Allen said. “We would have loved to have done it more easily but beggars can’t be choosers. Any way you get there is huge success. A lot of people are going to have to eat their words with some of the criticism which has been thrown at us.”

Giggs credited Coleman for “showing the way” and Allen said qualification should diminish any lingering doubts over the manager. “Yes [he has had flak], but he has delivered, simple as that. He came in off the back of a great manager who had huge success. It was always going to be tough but he has got us there. I think questions have been asked of everything really – selection, tactics – but nine times out of 10 he has got it right. That is one of the big reasons we have made it.”

Aaron Ramsey turned in a near-perfect performance against Hungary, scoring both goals, and it proved an equally special occasion for those who were not part of Euro 2016, such as the Bournemouth pair Harry Wilson, who attended the tournament as a fan, and Chris Mepham, who was then playing for Brentford B.

“I was on holiday in Greece,” said Mepham, who made his Wales debut in March last year. “I never thought I’d be in a position where I’d be going to a major tournament. Even in the summer with the two games we had it made it very difficult. I think a lot of people lost hope.”

Ramsey believes Wales are capable of going deep into the knockout stages next summer. Ramsey missed Wales’s semi-final defeat by Portugal three years ago because of suspension and the Juventus midfielder feels as if he has unfinished business with the competition.

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“It was obviously a disappointing ending to the Euros for me by missing out on the semi-final,” he said. “Now I have the opportunity to go out there and express myself again and hopefully we can have another successful run. To do back-to-back Euros is something special. It was very disappointing not to make the [2018] World Cup but we learned from that experience to bring it back here, and to win in the manner that we did was a nice experience.”

Wales will discover their group-stage fate when the Euro 2020 draw is made in Bucharest on 30 November. Giggs’s side will be drawn into either Group A, where matches will be played in Rome and Baku, or Group B, where matches will be played in Copenhagen and St Petersburg. Group B will comprise Belgium, Russia, Denmark and either Finland or Wales. Asked about possibly playing for his country in Italy next summer, Ramsey replied: “I’m enjoying my time over there at the moment, so that would be nice.”

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