Euro 2016: Chris Coleman says Wales players deserve golden tag

Wales players celebrate after defeating Andorra to round off an historic Euro 2016 qualifying campaign
Wales have reached their first major tournament finals in 57 years

Wales manager Chris Coleman said his players are now worthy of being described as a "golden generation" after qualifying for Euro 2016.

With their place in France already confirmed, Wales rounded off the campaign with a 2-0 win over Andorra.

Fittingly it was two of their brightest stars, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, who scored against the Group B minnows.

"The team were labelled the 'golden generation' before they'd earned it. Now they've earned it," said Coleman.

"They deserve it. You get team spirit from working hard for each other on the pitch and coming through tough situations and big challenges, and they've done it time after time."

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Despite a 2-0 loss in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday, Wales' place at Euro 2016 was confirmed that night when Cyprus beat Israel.

Cardiff City Stadium had seen 34,000 supporters packed inside on Tuesday to cheer the players who have delivered Wales' first appearance at a major finals since the 1958 World Cup.

And Coleman was quick to praise the fans, who he said have played their part in his side's success.

Fans inside the Cardiff City Stadium
Wales fans ensured the 34,000-capacity Cardiff City Stadium was packed out for the game with Andorra

"These supporters have been absolutely incredible, I've never seen anything like it," added the Wales boss.

"In some games we've struggled a little bit, we've hung on, and these guys have got us over the line - I'm so happy for them."

While the likes of Real Madrid forward Bale and Arsenal midfielder Ramsey more often attract the headlines, Coleman picked out captain Ashley Williams for his contribution from centre-back.

"He's been brilliant on and off the pitch, a true leader and I think you need that if you're going to be successful," he added.

"When we've really needed him, especially in the big games where we've been under the cosh, he's come up trumps for us.

"He's fantastic and he deserves everything that's coming to him."

Gareth Bale with Wales team-mate Aaron Ramsey
Wales were in the mood to celebrate even before the game kicked off

Bale hoping to make impact at Euros

Bale's late strike to put some gloss on the scoreline against Andorra was his seventh goal of a campaign that began with his brace away to the same opposition in September 2014.

"We've put the hard work in for years and years," Bale told Sky Sports. "It's time to enjoy it, but as soon as France comes round we'll be looking to make an impact.

"It's something special. The fans, what can I say? We have the best fans in the world. Obviously a great thanks to the gaffer and everybody involved. We're looking forward to the future."

Swansea defender Williams added: "It's overwhelming. We wanted to get to this game so we could say thank you to the fans for all the support they gave us over the campaign.

"It was a nice game to play as the last one. We'll enjoy the celebrations."

Success built on firm foundations

The father of the late Gary Speed, Roger, paid tribute to his son, who managed Wales before Coleman.

"I was in tears for the last match in Cardiff when the Barry Horns - the group - started singing Gary's favourite song Can't Take My Eyes Off You. I just broke down," he said.

"I watched the Bosnia game with a mate where we live and really, really enjoyed it and couldn't believe it when the score came through from the other match [Israel 1-2 Cyprus] - fantastic!

"Everybody should be backing Chris Coleman, he's done a great job. Gary was doing well, Chris carried it on."

Wales players celebrate
The Wales players made a point of thanking their fans after a famous campaign
Wales players celebrate at the end of a historic Euro 2016 qualifying campaign
Wales had last qualified for a major tournament in 1958
Wales players celebrate at the end of a historic Euro 2016 qualifying campaign
Welsh football has come to be defined by agonising failure - but not any more
Wales players celebrate at the end of a historic Euro 2016 qualifying campaign
Gareth Bale scored seven of Wales' 11 goals in qualifying
Scorer Aaron Ramsey rushed to celebrate with his Wales team-mates
Goal-scorer Aaron Ramsey rushed to celebrate with his Wales team-mates

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