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Joe Allen: 'Ryan Giggs has made doubters eat their words'

Joe Allen: 'Ryan Giggs has made doubters eat their words'
© Reuters
The Manchester United great succeeded Chris Coleman in January 2018.

Joe Allen believes Ryan Giggs has made his critics "eat their words" after leading Wales to Euro 2020.

Giggs was not a universally popular choice to succeed Chris Coleman – who led Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 – in January 2018, with large sections of the fan base unhappy at his appointment.

The Manchester United great upset Wales supporters during his celebrated playing career by regularly failing to turn up for international duty.

The 45-year-old also came in for heavy criticism over selection and tactics during Wales' summer setback in Croatia and Hungary, defeats which left Euro 2020 qualification hopes hanging in the balance.

But Wales took eight points from their final four qualifiers, with Tuesday's 2-0 home win over Hungary sealing their second successive appearance at the Euros, and third in all at major tournaments.

"He'd had stick. But he has delivered, simple as that," Allen said of Giggs.

"He came in off the back of a great manager who had huge success, and it was always going to be tough.

Joe Allen has been a key player in Wales' qualifying campaign
Joe Allen has been a key player in Wales' qualifying campaign (Nick Potts/PA)

"But he has got us there. I think questions have been asked of everything really – selection, tactics – but nine times out of ten he has got it right.

"That is one of the big reasons we have made it. He has done the job – the ambition and target was to get to the Euros.

"Any way you get there is huge success, and I think a lot of people are going to have to eat their words."

Allen, alongside the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, is among the survivors of the side who reached the last four in France in 2016.

The 29-year-old, who fell just short with Wales in their 2018 World Cup qualifying bid, has played a crucial role in the current campaign, not only through his own performances but also helping the development of young midfielders Ethan Ampadu, Joe Morrell and Matthew Smith.

"We didn't want to be a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder if you like," Allen said.

"That World Cup disappointment has spurred on a lot of people. A lot of us are getting older and we realise how precious these chances are.

"The players who have done it before were motivated to get there again and we've banged on to the young lads how good it was.

Slovakia v Wales – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Anton Malatinsky Stadium
Joe Allen has developed an impressive midfield partnership with Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu (Tim Goode/PA)

"I think they were sick of hearing about it and want to see what it's all about!"

Wales will head to Euro 2020 with arguably a more talented squad than they had in France.

Ampadu, Daniel James, Harry Wilson, Joe Rodon and Chris Mepham have all broken into the squad since Euro 2016.

Bournemouth's exciting forward David Brooks, the current Welsh Footballer of the Year, will also be back soon after missing most of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign following ankle surgery.

"It (qualifying) is different in many ways but just as good," Allen said.

"To do it for the first time was special, but on the back of missing out on the World Cup we're thrilled to go back to the Euros.

"The danger is we did so well last time that the expectation and the bar is going to be raised.

"We've found that in qualifying since France. Teams have made it much more difficult for us and I don't think we'll be so much of a surprise package at this Euros for other teams.

"But we've got players that can hurt any team. We'll go out there and give it all guns blazing."

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Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring for Wales on November 19, 2019
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United StatesUnited States98825
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Great BritainGreat Britain45413
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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