Gareth Bale says Chris Coleman has restored Wales' pride

Gareth Bale surprises Cardiff kids with personal masterclass

Forward Gareth Bale says Wales boss Chris Coleman has restored Welsh football's "passion and pride" by leading the national side to Euro 2016.

Wales last week qualified for their first major tournament since 1958.

Bale, 26, also praised Coleman's predecessors - the late Gary Speed and John Toshack - but said much of the credit had to go to the current boss.

"He's been amazing. All the players love him. I think he's created such a great atmosphere in the camp," he said.

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The Real Madrid forward said all of the players "enjoy going away with Wales" and "never want to miss it".

He added: "Even the ones who miss out - we're all texting and they're always gutted not to be there."

Appointed in January 2012, Coleman started his Wales reign with four losses, and considered resigning after the 6-1 defeat by Serbia in September 2012.

But the 45-year-old former Fulham boss transformed his side's fortunes and is set to sign a new contract.

Bale said: "He's been incredible. He's really brought that passion and pride back for Wales. Even just at lunchtimes and meetings there's always that bit of banter.

"He's a great person to have around as well as being your manager. We respect him as a manager and a man as well."

Gareth Bale scores against Belgium
Gareth Bale (right) scored seven of Wales' 11 goals in their 10 Euro 2016 qualifiers

Bale said Coleman had "grown into his own" after a "bit of a rocky start".

"It's obviously been a long process," he added. "A lot of us who are playing now were with John Toshack and Gary Speed and now with Chris Coleman, but [credit] mostly to Chris I think because he has really pushed us on and made us really kick on and have that belief in ourselves.

"It was a difficult time with the death of Gary for us as players, we were very close to him. It was one of those times that maybe made us a little bit stronger.

"We wanted to do it for Gary and his family as well. Chris Coleman coming in really gave us that belief. It was a difficult time but we have tried to use it as a positive and do it for Gary."

Euro 2016 seeding
Pot 1: Spain, Germany, England, Portugal, FrancePot 2: Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, AN Other
Pot 3: All to be confirmed after play-offsPot 4: Iceland, Wales. Albania, Northern Ireland and two others

Having qualified on Saturday despite losing 2-0 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, thanks to Cyprus beating Israel, Wales ended their campaign with a 2-0 win against Andorra three days later.

"It's a bit surreal," said Bale. "We know we have done it but it hasn't quite fully sunk in to be honest.

"It's obviously a major achievement but I think it will really sink in when we start to go to France and the hype and the buzz around the tournament will really kick in."

Bale said Wales' achievement was on a par with winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.

He added: "It's such an historical moment for Wales. I think everybody knows how much it means to me to play for Wales and to create history for the country, so to qualify probably meets it right up there.

"We're not going there to make up the numbers, we really want to make an impact in the tournament and give everybody a run for their money. We believe in ourselves and hopefully we can make a whole nation proud."

Watch the interview on Sport Wales at 19:00 BST on BBC Two Wales on Friday, then on Football Focus at 12:10 on BBC One on Saturday.

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