The death of Gary Speed, the failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and the subsequent Euro 2016 qualifying have all helped build an incredible camaraderie that is spearheaded by Gareth Bale's and Aaron Ramsey's desire to play for Wales A moment in the hotel bar at Haifa, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, gets to the heart of why Wales have travelled from nowhere to the high peaks of the European continent in the space of two years.
The players had just beaten the Israelis 3-0 in a qualifier for these European Championships, so the guitar was fetched out and Owain Fôn Williams, then goalkeeper of Tranmere Rovers, a club propping up League Two, was joined in a rendition of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ by Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive footballer.
Coleman was also saved from what he believes was the certain sack when Bale’s 81st-minute winner rescued Wales from the ignominy of starting the qualifying campaign for these championships with a draw in Andorra, on the other side of the Alps from France.
It was the players’ openness to ideas – Bale as much as anyone – that also made attempts to introduce them to elements of Welsh history effective, rather than forced.
It was towards the end of the game which, with a shattered Bale on the touchline trying to stretch out a cramp, the Welsh contingent struck up an impromptu a cappella rendition of the national anthem – something that no one could ever recall being sung in the course of a match before.