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

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

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.

Shock

“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.

IN­SPIRED: Earn­shaw

TRAGEDY: Speed

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