Chris Coleman admits his one regret at Wales reaching the quarter-final of Euro 2016 is that his Dublin-born father Paddy is not around to see it.
Coleman senior died two years ago after his son’s first campaign in charge of Wales had ended miserably and there were doubts whether he would continue in the job.
But the former Fulham boss stayed on to lead Wales to their first major tournament for 58 years, and now they are only two games from the final itself.
“To be fair I probably helped to put him where he is now!” smiled Coleman ahead of tonight’s last-eight meeting with Belgium in Lille.
“My dad was a huge football fan and unfortunately he witnessed the first campaign.
“He loved football and would have loved this. He would have been ecstatic.
“If you manage your country it is different to managing a club. Your family feel it much more.
“Not getting a result, they feel it. It’s a tough one.
“Equally when it is going great, they are on cloud nine — and at the moment they are loving it.”
Coleman has stayed close to his Swansea roots since leaving in 1991 to pursue a playing career at Crystal Palace, Blackburn and Fulham.
The 46-year-old went on to manage Fulham, Real Sociedad, Coventry and Larissa in Greece before succeeding the late Gary Speed as Wales boss in January 2012.
“I have two sisters, they watch the games from behind a couch most of the time because they are so nervous,” said Coleman.
“They keep texting me and when I’m on the phone to my mother she is telling me what it is like back home.
“I always call my wife, my mother and my children after the games. It has been the same here.
“The games are so big and there is so much excitement around them. It is an amazing feeling to be a part of it.”
Coleman had a promising start to his managerial career after being handed a Premier League opportunity at Craven Cottage. After steering Fulham away from relegation when appointed in April 2003, the Cottagers finished ninth, 13th and 12th under Coleman’s command.
But he was sacked in April 2007 with Fulham deep in relegation trouble, and appeared to lose his way during spells in Europe and in the Championship. “I think I have had to work hard at my managerial style,” said Coleman.
“I have had to change quite a bit about myself and that is probably maturity as well.
“My first job, I was 32. When I was 32 I’d look back to when I was 20 and think why did I do that, that was stupid.
“Equally now I look back when I was 32 ,33 or 34 and think I can’t believe I did that. It is experience.”
Coleman also says he has had to improve as a manager because he is in charge of players like Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen.
“I have to raise my own game to manage the team we have got, because it is a good team,” said Coleman.
“I have good people around me who have pushed me and I feel like the last four years has been good for me.”
Here’s a little extra sport: BallTalk TV look ahead to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.
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