Joe Allen says Wales are still benefiting from Gary Speed’s legacy as the 10th anniversary of his death approaches.
Friday marks 10 years since former captain Speed, who won 85 caps for Wales, managed his country for the last time – a 4-1 friendly win over Norway.
Speed died in 2011 aged 42 when he was discovered hanged at his home.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years really,” Allen said.
“A lot of the lads still talk about Gary, the influence he had on us as young players back when he was manager.
“He revamped a lot of things, not just on the pitch but off it as well, and we’ve reaped the rewards of that.
“That’s one of the big reasons why Welsh football has been in such a healthy position over the past decade.”
Speed spent just under two years as Wales manager having been appointed in December 2010.
But the former Everton, Leeds and Newcastle midfielder has been credited for putting Wales, who were ranked 112 in the world at the time of his appointment, on the path to success.
Wales made their first major tournament appearance for 58 years at Euro 2016, reaching the semi-finals in France under Speed’s successor Chris Coleman.
The Dragons also qualified for the delayed Euro 2020 finals and made the round of 16 last summer.
Allen said: “Gary will always be in our thoughts. He was part of the beginning of our road, first of all for Euro 2016 and everything that’s come since.
“It was a horrendous day. Obviously for anyone who knew him, but also for the world of football.
“It was very hard news to process, very saddening and very confusing.”
Wales conclude their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with home games against Belarus and Belgium in the next week and need four points to guarantee a play-off place in March.
As well as Allen and captain Gareth Bale, who is set to win his 100th cap against Belarus on Saturday, Aaron Ramsey, Chris Gunter and Wayne Hennessey of the current squad also played under Speed.
Goalkeeper Hennessey said: “I try not to (remember that day). I just try to remember when he was smiling and seeing him on the sideline.
“He was a great leader for us and used to speak so well. I honestly think that was the start of the path that made us successful and where we are today.
“He was an amazing manager and he deserves credit for that. Once he became the manager he started a different route for us.
“We were going in the right direction. It was so sad to hear the news and I still get choked up about it a little bit now.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.