Jonathan Ford: FAW chief hopes Wales can prolong 'golden period'

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Reaching the Euros 'special' Ramsey

Welsh football's leading official hopes Wales reaching Euro 2020 will ensure their "golden period" stretches to the 2022 Qatar World Cup and beyond.

Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Jonathan Ford also praised manager Ryan Giggs after Wales beat Hungary 2-0 to reach only their third major championship.

"It is a golden period," said Ford.

"Let's just hope we can make sure that golden period stretches - World Cup 2022, 2024 and beyond."

Giggs' predecessor Chris Coleman had guided Wales to Euro 2016, but disappointment followed as Wales failed to reach the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

Coleman left to become Sunderland boss in November, 2017 with Giggs taking over in January, 2018 and the 2020 Euro qualifiers were the latter's first campaign as manager.

There was a mixed reaction among fans when Giggs arrived, thanks chiefly to questions over the former Manchester United star's commitment to Wales in his playing days.

Giggs faced further criticism in June when defeats in Croatia and Hungary left Wales' Euro 2020 qualification hopes looking slim.

But under him Wales sealed second place in Group E, having taken 11 points from their last five qualification games.

"It's great for Ryan. He really did take on that baton after a very successful period with Chris Coleman. The Euros were fantastic. We didn't quite get to the World Cup," Ford told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

"Ryan took over at a very difficult time, a time when we had a bit of an ageing squad. (There were) some very good, experienced players there, but some great is talent now coming through under Ryan's stewardship.

"The proof is in the pudding. He had a difficult couple of matches, but he absolutely stuck there and ultimately he's won through - Euro 2020 here we come."

'This is great for Wales as a country'

Having featured at the 1958 World Cup, Wales had to wait 58 years for their next major championship appearance.

After Coleman's team enjoyed a spectacular run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen will get a second chance to shine on the big international stage.

"What I will say is that this isn't just great for football, this isn't just great for sport - this is great for Wales," said Ford.

"Sport is one of the defining things of the Welsh people and we can stand proud of what we have achieved on the rugby pitch and the football pitch.

"Come on Wales. Let's get behind our team again and let's see where we can get."

The Euro 2020 draw will take place in Romania on 30 November, with the tournament to be staged in 12 cities across Europe in June and July 2020.

Ford added: "Wales have come an awful long way. It's down to an awful lot of hard work. These things don't happen by accident.

"Every piece of work we have done - from player pathway, to managerial selection, to making sure the team atmosphere is right. All of the players and all of the staff - everybody needs to take some credit.

"People do tell me when it goes wrong I have to take the blame. You might as well try to take some of the credit as well.

"It needs to be spread around because everybody has worked so desperately hard to try to make this a reality."

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