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Euro 2016: Joe Allen hopes amazing journey has changed Welsh football forever

By Ian Herbert

Published 08/07/2016

Applause all round: Joe Allen hails the crowd after Wales’ semi-final defeat
Applause all round: Joe Allen hails the crowd after Wales’ semi-final defeat

Wales midfielder Joe Allen has declared in the aftermath of their incredible journey to the semi-finals of the European Championships that the achievement must not be a one-off, but change the entire course of the nation's football story.

The Football Association of Wales - who have organised a homecoming event at the Cardiff City Stadium where tens of thousands of fans are expected to greet Chris Coleman's players this evening - have secured £15.1m in prize money by reaching the last four, compared with England's £9.6m.

Wales' forward Gareth Bale reacts during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016.
/ AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' forward Gareth Bale reacts during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Gareth Bale of Wales battles for the ball with Jose Fonte of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Wales' Gareth Bale during the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, right, saves a shot by Portugal's Danilo, second left, during the Euro 2016 semifinal soccer match between Portugal and Wales, at the Grand Stade in Decines-­Charpieu, near Lyon, France, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
CARDIFF, WALES - JULY 06: Welsh football fans react as Portugal score a goal inside the Principality Stadium which is showing the Wales v Portugal game on a giant screen on July 6, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. Wales plays Portugal in the Euro 2016 semi-final tonight in Lyon, France (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Portugal football team's supporters wave flags and scarves as they gather on Terreiro do Paco square in Lisbon on July 6, 2016, moments before the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match Portugal vs Wales played in France. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
CARDIFF, WALES - JULY 06: Welsh football fans react as Portugal score a goal inside the Principality Stadium which is showing the Wales v Portugal game on a giant screen on July 6, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. Wales plays Portugal in the Euro 2016 semi-final tonight in Lyon, France (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Portugal's Nani, center, is congratulated by his teammates after scoring their second goal during the Euro 2016 semifinal soccer match between Portugal and Wales, at the Grand Stade in Decines-­Charpieu, near Lyon, France, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: POrtugal supporters cheer after their team's second goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Wales' forward Gareth Bale reacts during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Cristiano Ronaldo (2nd L) of Portugal heads the ball to score the opening goal past Wayne Hennessey during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Wales and Portugal at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/REMOTE/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Portugal players celebrate their opening goal by Cristiano Ronaldo (obscured)during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal protests to an assistant referee during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) vies for the ball against Wales' defender Ashley Williams during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal football team's supporters wave flags and scarves as they gather on Terreiro do Paco square in Lisbon on July 6, 2016, moments before the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match Portugal vs Wales played in France. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal football team's supporters wave flags and scarves as they gather on Terreiro do Paco square in Lisbon on July 6, 2016, moments before the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match Portugal vs Wales played in France. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal football team's supporters wave flags and scarves as they gather on Terreiro do Paco square in Lisbon on July 6, 2016, moments before the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match Portugal vs Wales played in France. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' coach Chris Coleman reacts during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' defender James Chester and Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo vie for the ball during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEKJEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal football team's supporters wave flags and scarves as they gather on Terreiro do Paco square in Lisbon on July 6, 2016, moments before the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match Portugal vs Wales played in France. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' Joe Ledley (left) and Wales' Gareth Bale during the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal shakes hands with Gareth Bale of Wales before the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Gareth Bale of Wales is tackled by Danilo Pereira of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales fans cheer on their side in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Families and partners of the Wales squad including Gareth Bale's parents Debbie (second row, second left) and Frank (second row, third left) during the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Gareth Bale of Wales runs with the ball under pressure from Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Gareth Bale of Wales and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
A Wales supporter waits for the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpies, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINAMIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
Wales fans cheer on their side outside the Stade de Lyon before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo is pictured ahead of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Francisco LEONGFRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images
A Wales supporter in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
A Portuguese supporter waits for the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Portuguese supporterS wait for the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: A Portugal supporter enjoys the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Wales and Portugal at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
A Portugal fan waits for the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal fans wait for the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO/AFP/Getty Images
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: A Portugal supporter is seen prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Wales and Portugal at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Portugal supporters enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Wales and Portugal at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
A Wales supporter ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PA
Wales' forward Gareth Bale (C) and teammates walk on the pitch ahead of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Portugal supporters enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Wales and Portugal at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: A young Wales supporter is seen prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Wales and Portugal at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
A Portugal fan in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PA
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Portugal supporters before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PA
A Portugal supporter before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
A Portugal supporter before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PA
Wales' Gareth Bale on the pitch before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Wales fans in Lyon before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PA
Portugal and Wales scarves and flags on sale before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Wales fan Lisa Slack shows her support for her side as she attends day nine of the Wimbledon Championships, Wales will face Portugal in tonight's European Championship match in Lyon, France. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Steve Paston/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Wales fans take pictures in Lyon ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match with Portugal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Wales fans outside the Elephant and Castle pub in Lyon ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match with Portugal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Wales fans outside the Elephant and Castle pub in Lyon ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match with Portugal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Wales fans outside the Elephant and Castle pub in Lyon ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match with Portugal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Wales fans in Lyon ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match with Portugal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Wales fans Jason, Liam, Josh, Jeremy, Gerard, Jan and Steve from Newbridge in Lyon prior to the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Wales fans pictured at Place Antonin Poncet prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 semi final between Wales and Portugal on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: A young Wales fan shows off his football skills infront of the fountains at Place Aantonin Poncet prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 semi final between Wales and Portugal on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales fans prior to the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Wales supporters enjoy a drink ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Wales. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
The majestic Welsh Xavi Joe Allen (centre) and Chris Gunter (left) during the walk around at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PA

A third of the money will be divided among Coleman, his staff and players - 60 individuals in total. But there are also plans to invest much of the remaining £9m in 3G pitches, with the League of Wales to be the hub for those resources, becoming community football facilities in the process.

Allen, who has spent the last 11 years progressing through the country's Under-17, 19 and 21 ranks, said there must not be another 50-year wait to be represented at a summer tournament.

"We have to use this experience as a springboard," the 26-year-old said. "We don't want this to be a one-off. We want this to be what inspires us to do it again and again. With the quality and the set-up we have got, we are confident we will do that. We all know how long the wait has been, it's been very long."

Wales will rise to 11th in the Fifa world rankings, two places above England, despite their 2-0 defeat to Portugal.

The players took two hours to emerge from the Stade de Lyon dressing room and head out of the stadium on Wednesday night and Allen looked as desolate as any of them after a performance which did not hit the levels they had displayed against Belgium in the quarter final.

The players had been taking in everything that they had done, according to Allen. He said: "It's remembering, despite the disappointment of going out, just what we have done. We are hoping that this story and journey we have been on will change Welsh football forever."

Allen's Liverpool future is unclear, with the possibility that he may move back to Swansea. "That's something I haven't even thought about," he said.

As the players head off for Cardiff from their Brittany base today, midfielder Joe Ledley is bound for Ibiza, where he had already made plans to marry his partner Ruby May tomorrow. It was clear that the experience of playing against Cristiano Ronaldo had left him less than enamoured with the Portuguese.

Asked why it had not happened for Wales, Ledley said: "I'm not sure but they were two rubbish goals. Ronaldo's shot was useless. Normally he hits them from there but he scuffed the cross for a tap-in.

"With the header, the guy can leap but apart from that he didn't really do anything.

"We want to achieve better things than this and hopefully we can do that with the World Cup. That's the aim."

Belfast Telegraph

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