Chris Coleman backs Wales to handle the pressure at Euro 2016

Chris Coleman backs Wales to handle the pressure at Euro 2016

Chris Coleman believes his players will rise to the occasion on the biggest day for Welsh football in nearly 60 years.

The 'Class of 58' featuring John Charles, Ivor Allchurch and company will finally be joined on the major tournament stage by fellow Welshmen as Coleman's squad take their place at Euro 2016.

Wales open their campaign against Slovakia in Bordeaux, and it promises to be an emotional afternoon as the current generation follow in the footsteps of the side who reached the quarter-final of the 1958 World Cup.

"I thought it would never happen, but we're here and walking out will be something special," said Wales manager Coleman.

"I understand we've got 25 or 30,000 Welsh supporters behind us, which is incredible.

"But we've got to remember that we're not just here to have a laugh, a smile and a joke. It's not the time to sit back and enjoy the moment, if we perform that's when we will enjoy the moment."

Wales have not had the smoothest of Euro 2016 build-ups, drawing one and losing three of the four friendlies played since qualification was achieved.

But Real Madrid striker Gareth Bale did not start any of those games and other key players have also been missing as Coleman has tried to maintain momentum.

"We've not had this bunch together since Andorra (when Wales qualified) and eight or nine months is a long time," said Coleman.

"This is the gang that got us to the tournament in the first place, and these players have never disappointed when the big challenge comes.

"I've got absolutely no worry over these players, no concern, no doubt, no fear, because I know what they're capable of.

"In qualification they were very hard-working, very consistent with a splash of brilliance in there. Just because we're at a tournament our core values remain the same.

"We're difficult to play against and we don't give the opposition anything easily."

Coleman celebrated his 46th birthday on Friday, and he received a cake at the squad's Brittany base before departing for Bordeaux.

But he said: "When you're involved in football you don't think about your birthday.

"It's all about the game and getting that win we need. It's the first game, we want to win, Slovakia want to win, and we've both got two other bites of the cherry.

"But the two teams will see this as an opportunity of getting that first win."

Much of Slovakia's focus will be on stopping Bale, who scored seven goals in the qualifying campaign.

But Coleman says that does not affect Wales' approach to the game.

"We've grown used to that, it's normal for the opposition to pay him a lot of attention," he said.

"Gareth's used to the spotlight and having the eyes of the world on him. I expect Slovakia to pay him attention, everyone we play against pays him attention."

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