Coleman: This is only just the beginning for Wales

Date published: Thursday 7th July 2016 8:23 - Matthew Stead

Chris Coleman believes there is plenty more to come from his history-making Wales squad after their exit from Euro 2016 at the hands of Portugal.

Less than five years after being ranked 117th in the world, and following some extremely difficult times, Lyon bore witness to the biggest match in Welsh football history.

An inspiring and improbable journey in France saw Wales through to the last four of a major tournament for the first time, but Portugal proved too much of a hurdle to overcome on Wednesday.

A monstrous second-half Cristiano Ronaldo header was quickly followed by Nani prodding home and Coleman’s men were unable to muster the required response as they went down 2-0.

Sunday’s Stade de France finale against France or Germany may have evaded them, but Wales return home as heroes – with the chorus of songs that echoed long into the night a sign of the welcome that awaits them.

“I am immensely proud of them,” manager Coleman said. “I can’t tell them all how proud I am of the team. It’s incredible what they’ve done and how they’ve performed.

“To get to the semi-finals is amazing, but I think it’s the nature in which they’ve achieved that.

“The only game actually we didn’t do it was the England game, which we lost and we never really showed what we are, we never showed our identity.

“But the other games that’s what they’ve done and you can only ask someone of their best. That’s it.

“If you lose and you’ve given your best, that’s how it goes unfortunately.

“It was our turn to lose tonight but I told the players that whatever the end date was at this tournament, it is not the end for this group of players.

“They’ll be there a lot longer than I’ll be there as a manager, no doubt.

“This was another test for us tonight, another challenge. We didn’t come through it, but we’ve come through some big ones previously.

“We’ve faced all sorts of challenges as a squad and as a group, and they’ve come through every one.

“Tonight was one too far for us but I’ve told them all how proud I’m proud of them, the nation is proud of them.

“I think once they settle down a bit in the next day or two, they’ve got to be proud of themselves.

“We know what we’re good at, we won’t change what got us here in the first place.

“We have got to go into the next campaign with the same hunger and that we really focus on now. The same hunger and desire as we’ve had in this last two to three years.

“That’s what I’ve told them. I can’t tell you how proud I am – I am prouder of this team than any team I’ve ever been involved in because I know what they’ve sacrificed to get to this stage.

“When you give so much then you can’t give any more. Results are going to be what they’re going to be.

“I think they’ll probably end up going back to Cardiff to a nice welcome, and they deserve that.”

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