EARNSHAW: WIN IS ONLY WAY TO RESPECT GREAT GARY’S MEMORY
WALES v COSTA RICA Tonight, Live on Sky Sports 2 – Kick-off 7.45pm
ROBERT EARNSHAW has urged Wales to pay a fitting tribute to Gary Speed by beating Costa Rica.
Tonight sees Wales play for the first time since the tragic death last November of boss Speed, who was also the country’s most-capped outfield player.
What is certain to be an emotional night at the Cardiff City Stadium will see 50 of Speed’s former international team-mates pay tribute to the legend.
Among them will be his managerial replacement Chris Coleman, who will take a back seat tonight, as well as Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage, Mark Hughes and Neville Southall.
But Cardiff forward Earnshaw admits a Wales win would be the best way for the Dragons to pay their respects to the midfielder capped 85 times by his country.
“A victory would be a fitting tribute to Gary’s memory,” said Earnshaw.
“He was a great guy and I was lucky enough to play with him for Wales and be managed by him.
“He had such a big effect on everyone that we miss him badly.
“I improved as a player and we were also the most improved team in Europe over the last year under him, so we want to mark the game with a win to keep that going.”
Earnshaw is still in shock over Speed’s death and fears it will be tough for the Wales players to keep their emotions in check tonight.
He added: “What happened to Gary still isn’t real to me.
“There are certain days when I may be about the house and I have to take a minute and realise that I’m still in shock.
“It’s been so hard to take and I don’t think it’s ever going to be settled in my mind.
“And I’ll feel the same in two or three years’ time. I’ll look across to the dug-out tonight and I’ll expect to see Gary there.
“It will be difficult to play in the game because every one of us was right behind him and we were inspired by him.
“I hope there’s a full house and everyone comes out and supports him to pay tribute to his memory.
“In football, there aren’t many games where you can pay tribute to people.
“This has to be one of those occasions.”
Current skipper Aaron Ramsey will be at the game despite being out injured.
And Craig Bellamy will wear the captain’s armband in what could be his final international for Wales.