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Wales owe Euro 2016 qualifying form to the late Gary Speed

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Wales are soaring towards the European Championships in France next summer and, if they complete the job, credit will deservedly go to manager Chris Coleman. However, the rise of the Welsh dragon begun with the late Gary Speed steering the ship. 

Speed's untimely death in 2011 came with the country suddenly enjoying football again. After the footballing hell they experienced under John Toshack, results and victories were beginning to come in increasing regularity. A young side in need of fine-tuning were beginning to look like the real deal. 

And when the former Bolton and Newcastle midfielder passed away, the country was in mourning. Their hopes of success and qualification were thrust towards the back of everyones minds. Continuing to perform after such a devastating setback seemed impossible. 

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But now, Wales are soaring; flying, with Gareth Bale the driving force behind their bid to be in the mix in France next year. Coleman has worked wonders but his predecessor is the real driving force behind their charge to next summer's major tournament. 

Speed sadness

The impact of Speed's death sent shockwaves around the footballing world, with clubs from all corners of the globe coming together to pay their tributes to one of the game's utmost professionals. 

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He was a legend of the Premier League and at one point the record holder for most appearances in the top flight. Quickly into his managerial tenure it became clear that the players held him in high esteem and wanted to emulate the success of their head coach. 

It is no surprise that various Welsh players, in particular Bale and Aaron Ramsey, have continued to develop in the four years since Speed's death. Though it seems ridiculous now, Ramsey was often cited as the weak link in the Arsenal midfield, and has become a lynchpin for the Premier League title hopefuls. As for Bale, he has since gone on to become the world's most expensive player and a Champions League winner.

European dream

Bale's late winner in the 1-0 win over Cyprus on Thursday now means Coleman's men require just one more victory to spark dreams of European triumph in Paris next summer.

The Real Madrid winger has been in scintilating form on the international stage, and is now tied with Robert Lewandowski, Wayne Rooney and Kyle Lafferty as the tournament's leading scorer.

Whether or not he can inspire them to further glory remains to be seen, but for now the work done by Speed and Coleman is daring the Welsh dragon to aim higher than they have ever done before.  

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Topics:
Football
Gary Speed
Wales

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