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Together Stronger: The Rise of Welsh Football's Golden Generation Paperback – 26 May 2016
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A must-read for anyone with an interest in Welsh football, and how a country that has always produced great players, finally produced a team with the quality and the unity to reach a first major tournament since 1958. --Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer, The Telegraph
An absorbing and essential book by Wales best football journalist. Chris Wathan s reputation is built on doing journalism s hard yards to provide the real, inside stories behind the headlines: building up a rich network of contacts and investigating events, not merely reporting them. --Ian Herbert, Chief Sportswriter, The Independent
'Wonderful, I loved it. Only someone with Wathan's access to the team and unrivalled football knowledge could have written a book like this. It will be cherished by Welsh football fans for many years to come. You've done Welsh football proud. A superb achievement.' --Elis James, Comedian, Actor and Welsh football obsessive
About the Author
Chris Wathan is the award-winning Football Correspondent for Media Wales, which includes the Western Mail, Wales on Sunday and WalesOnline.co.uk . Named Welsh Sports Hall of Fame 'Journalist of the Year' in 2014 and the Wales Media Awards 'Sports Reporter of the Year' in 2015, he is regarded as one of the most respected writers on the game in Wales and was one of the few journalists to cover every step of Wales' successful Euro 2016 campaign having reported from close to 100 Wales games since 2002.
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Together Stronger: The Rise of Welsh Football’s Golden Generation starts out strong with a foreword from Wales national team stalwart Ashley Williams, who gives author Chris Wathan his highest recommendation: “There are no writers who have been as close to the story as Chris over the last ten years.”
Simply put, Wathan was the right choice to write the book about Wales’ return to a major tournament following a 58-year absence. He reported from close to 100 Wales games since 2002. He’s clearly an expert and one of the nation’s most respected journalists. No wonder the book is so great.
Together Stronger is a story that covers ten years, three managers, and dozens of players. This journey ended with Wales qualifying for Euro 2016. But where did it start and who is responsible for their recent success?
That sounds like a simple question and it is to a point. Wales is, after all, in the midst of a golden age of football with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Hal Robson-Kanu, Ashley Williams, Joe Allen, and Wayne Hennessey all starring for the Red Dragons.
But having great footballers doesn’t always mean absolute success considering Ryan Giggs, John Hartson, Ian Rush, Neville Southall, Kevin Ratcliffe, and Mark Hughes all missed major finals while playing for Wales.
The story of Wales’ qualification for Euro 2016 is one of missed opportunities, tension, and absolute jubilation. You could say it all started with a failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. But you have to take it back even further to get the whole story. The author talks about Mark Hughes leaving and John Toshack taking over the reins. While some may be very critical of Toshack’s time in control, this time was one of great emphasis on youth and development. Toshack deserves some credit for laying the foundation for the great work that Gary Speed and Chris Coleman would do.
Speed’s legacy and Coleman’s ability to carry on helped Wales through difficult times and hard-luck tales. Speed took over the national team with just four months of top-flight managerial experience and made a massive difference. He wanted to ease the regret of not making a major finals as a player and “lift Welsh football from top to bottom.” The revival and modernization of Welsh football was Speed’s ultimate responsibility and he accomplished this objective and much more.
Speed wanted a total revamp and he did just that, having an impact on the program and its players for years to come. His greatest influence came on Aaron Ramsey, who was a “young captain for a young manager.” Speed wanted input from players, yet was young enough to appreciate what the players were going through.
The tragic death of Speed was devastating for all involved. He was an irreplaceable force, possessing a natural charisma that brought the best out of people. He made everyone feel that they had to give a little bit extra.
Coleman had the difficult task of following after him and found the situation to be astonishingly difficult. The call of “Rio for Speedo” fell short, but everyone knew that they had to finish the work that had been started. They did just that, qualifying for Euro 2016 after a wild roller coaster of events.
We all know what happened there as Wales rose to the occasion, finishing strong among Europe’s elite. Only a Cinderella run by Iceland could overshadow their good work.
Wathan captured the entire journey using the right lens, being sympathetic when needed and enthusiastic at the right moments. He discussed the story of Wales football from every perspective and angle; he also found the positives in every situation and with every manager. You could tell that this book was truly a labor of love, the result of tremendous experience, expertise, and passion for Wales football.
It’s a must-read for anyone that followed Wales or Euro 2016. We have to say that there are many options for Wales-related literature this summer, but this one is easily one of the best. Wathan’s brilliance shines very brightly in this text.