Friday 19 July 2019

Ashley Williams determined to deliver display to make Gary Speed proud

Ashley Williams thanks medical staff for support after his injury playing for Wales
Ashley Williams thanks medical staff for support after his injury playing for Wales

Phil Blanche

Wales captain Ashley Williams feels the late Gary Speed would be proud of the team's achievement in reaching the semi-final of Euro 2016.

Speed put in motion the changes leading to the greatest moment in Welsh football history before his untimely death in November 2011 at the age of 42.

And Williams says he considered Speed's legacy ahead of Wednesday's semi-final against Portugal when reading 'TogetherStronger', the book written by Welsh journalist Chris Wathan which charts the recent history of the Wales football team.

"I was thinking about him (Speed) on the plane coming over," said Williams.

"Reading Chris Wathan's book brought it back to me at the time.

"My thought coming in was I hope he'd be proud of us. He saw us grow up.

"He's always in the back of our minds. When we achieve something, we think about him."

Wales must cope in Lyon without suspended pair Aaron Ramsey, one of the players of the tournament with a goal and four assists, and defender Ben Davies.

But Williams feels Wales are well covered in those areas, whoever manager Chris Coleman calls up.

"The strength is in the squad, not just the team," said Williams.

"The 23 men who are there. Whoever the gaffer picks will do the job.

"We're disappointed for them, but it gives two others a chance to experience the Euros.

"They'll fill the slots as good as the boys who went out."

Cristiano Ronaldo presents the greatest threat to Wales meeting either Germany or France in the Paris final on Sunday.

But Williams said of the Real Madrid star: "He's one of the greatest players in the world, but they have other weapons in their team.

"We are not obsessing over that.

"We'll try and nullify them as a team, as we have all tournament."

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