Chris Gunter: No Wales player power over Coleman

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales
Gareth Bale arrives for China Cup with Wales
China Cup: China v Wales
Venue: Guangxi Sports Center, Nanning Date: Thursday, 22 March Kick-off: 11:35 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Chris Gunter insists there was no case of undue player power as he and his Wales team-mates tried to convince former manager Chris Coleman to stay.

Coleman left in November to take charge of Sunderland.

Wales' players wanted him to remain, but Gunter says they are "massively excited" about the future under new boss Ryan Giggs.

"We certainly don't feel like we deserve to make decisions like that," he said.

"It's important to state that never once in my knowing and understanding, groups of players have gone to senior people at the FAW [Football Association of Wales] and tried to make decisions.

Chris Coleman watches Wales against France in Paris
Chris Coleman became Wales manager as successor to the late Gary Speed in 2012

"We certainly don't think we should be in a position where we are making decisions like who is our manager.

"We are footballers and we get on with it and we are very good at just getting on with what we are good at.

"The situation was that Chris was our manager and, of course, we wanted him to stay, everybody loved playing under him.

"Yes, now we are here we're really excited and we want to move forward. But it wasn't a case of the players not wanting anyone else to take over.

"It was a case of us getting on with our job and showing respect to a manager who had done so much for us. Whoever came in - especially Ryan Giggs - will get the utmost respect and full commitment, which is normal."

Ryan Giggs watches Gareth Bale at Wales training in China
Ryan Giggs watches Gareth Bale at Wales training in China

Giggs, who was appointed in January, will take charge of his first Wales game on Thursday, 22 March when they face hosts China in the China Cup friendly competition.

They go on to play either Uruguay or the Czech Republic on Monday, 26 March.

This is the former Wales and Manchester United captain's first permanent managerial job, and he has a tough act to follow after Coleman's richly successful reign.

Under Coleman's guidance, Wales qualified for Euro 2016, only the second major tournament in their history, and reached their first semi-final,

However, having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Coleman departed to take over at Championship strugglers Sunderland.

The former Fulham manager had agonised over his decision for a long time, and some Wales players met him after the Ireland loss in an attempt to convince him to stay.

Fully behind Giggs

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Coleman's exit, Gunter says the Wales squad are now fully behind Giggs.

"It's a massively exciting time for the country as a whole and us as players to get to see this great player we all grew up watching in charge of us and see what he can sort of teach us really," he said.

"As a squad and a group of players we are united and good at buying into whatever situation we are in.

"And when you appoint a manager like Ryan Giggs it needs no introduction - it does not need to be sold to the players."

From opponent to manager

Reading right-back Gunter will win his 86th cap if he plays against China, which would see him overtake Gary Speed and move into second place outright in the list of Wales appearances, six behind record holder Neville Southall.

Gunter made his Wales debut in 2007 against New Zealand, a 2-2 friendly draw which proved to be Giggs' penultimate international appearance.

The two also played against each other, with Gunter making his second appearance for former club Tottenham in a 3-1 fourth-round FA Cup defeat against Giggs' Manchester United in 2008.

"I came on after about 60 minutes and I remember saying something like 'do me a favour'," he recalled.

"Two minutes after I came on - it was 1-1 at the time - Michael Dawson got sent off for a handball, gave away a penalty and we were 2-1 down with a three-man defence.

"My debut was with him as captain as well, but all of that seems like a long time ago now.

"Going through my career when people say 'Did you ever play with Ryan Giggs?' I could always say 'Yes, I made my debut', which was a nice thing to say."

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