Coleman pays tribute to 'great man' Speed amid Wales celebrations

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The British nation qualified for their first major international tournament for 57 years and the Dragons' coach is elated with how his players have performed

Chris Coleman has paid tribute to Gary Speed following Wales' qualification for Euro 2016 despite a 2-0 defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Coleman succeeded Speed as coach of Wales following his former international team-mate's suicide, which sent shockwaves through British football at the tail-end of 2011.

Wales went from 117th in the Fifa ranking system to 45th during Speed's short tenure, and Coleman continued their ascension by taking them into the top 10 and, on Saturday, securing their first major finals appearance since 1958.

"When we come off losing 2-0 I thought we would have to go again but our secretary gave us the Israel result [they lost 2-1 at home to Cyprus] and it was complete elation," the head coach told Sky Sports.

"I can't explain it, it's unbelievable. It's been an absolute dream, it means everything for Wales. It's a dream come true.

"All the players from my generation, and generations before, nearly got there and it was really tough. But this group have gone that extra yard.

"They deserve everything they have got. From the first game to tonight they have given me their all.

"When I took the job I was in a sticky situation. Gary Speed was such a great man and a great presence that I wanted to carry on his work. But I couldn't.

"So I decided to do my own thing and it has been a fantastic campaign. Gary Speed played his part and I'm sure he is smiling tonight."

Second-half strikes from Milan Djuric and Vedad Ibisevic ensured Bosnia came away with all three points against Coleman's men, boosting their own chances of finishing in a play-off spot.

Gareth Bale and his Welsh cohorts can still finish top should they defeat Cyprus in their final game, but that would require current table-toppers Belgium to draw or lose at home to Israel.

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