Ramsey backs 'Rio for Speedo'
Aaron Ramsey is very much on board with the 'Rio for Speedo' campaign, with Wales determined to reach the World Cup as a tribute to Gary Speed.
Last Updated: 07/09/12 9:32am
Aaron Ramsey is very much on board with the 'Rio for Speedo' campaign, with Wales determined to reach the 2014 World Cup as a tribute to Gary Speed.
Speed's tragic passing in November 2011 shook Welsh football to its core, at a time when performances on the field were improving and confidence was soaring.
He helped to transform a side stuck in the doldrums for far too long and qualification for Brazil 2014 was considered to be an achievable target.
Chris Coleman has picked up the managerial baton and he, his players and a passionate Welsh support are looking to reach a first World Cup since 1958 in memory of their much-missed former coach.
Ramsey, who was made national captain by Speed, said: "When we lost Gary it was a massive thing for us. It had a massive impact on the team.
"All the hard work we had put in, all the players enjoyed playing under him and we made a massive improvement. The games after Gary's death were very different.
"We are trying to carry on what he brought into the team."
On the 'Rio for Speedo' campaign, which has been launched by fans on Twitter, Ramsey added: "That campaign is an incentive for us. Qualifying is our target.
"Gary Speed, and the staff he brought in, it was our target to qualify for the World Cup. All the players know that. We will be doing our hardest to do that for him."
Wales begin their qualifying campaign with a home date against Belgium on Friday.
The visitors to Cardiff are packed with Premier League talent, including Chelsea's £32million summer signing Eden Hazard, but Ramsey insists Wales have their own match-winner in Tottenham winger Gareth Bale.
He said: "I suppose we are the underdogs but we will use that to our advantage and surprise a few people.
"Bale is always a threat when he gets in behind and takes players on. He has that quality to whip in a ball and to shoot from distance.
"He has done great things against top-quality defenders, he's a player who can unlock defences. I wouldn't swap any of Belgium's big names for Bale as a match-winner."