Morison - Let’s qualify for Gary Speed
Norwich City striker Steve Morison last night admitted firing Wales to the 2014 World Cup would be a fitting tribute to his former international boss Gary Speed.
The 28-year-old told Talksport he was still in a state of shock after learning of Speed's death at his Chester home early on Sunday morning.
Morison had rapidly become an integral part of the Welsh renaissance under Speed which had propelled the Principality up the global rankings during recent months.
Now the former Millwall striker is determined to do everything he can to ensure Wales qualify for a first major finals since 1958 when the road to Brazil gets under way next September.
'Since day one that was all he had spoken about – the 2014 World Cup and we were on the right track at the minute,' he said, 'I suppose the greatest honour we could give him is to qualify for that World Cup and you weren't hungry for it before I think you have that extra incentive now.
'I can't believe it. I'm still in shock and can't quite take it in to be honest. He just transformed everything. He had a certain way that he wanted to play. He changed all the backroom side of it and he made it a hundred times more professional than it was in the past. It took a while to get going and everything like that does because you are not together all the time, but it was as people saw over the last five games that it was coming together nicely.'
Morison insisted Speed had single-handedly transformed the country's footballing fortunes, underlined by a thumping 4-1 friendly win over Norway in his last match in charge.
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'He had it going so nicely you looked forward to turning up with the Welsh squad,' he said. 'There are lots of different characters and players coming together from different clubs and different walks of life. He worked hard to make that happen. Everything we did was together, so there weren't any splits in the group and it was paying off.
'We jumped from about 117th to 47th in a matter of four games and all of a sudden we were playing Norway and many people looked at it still that they were a million times better than us and it just proved how well he was doing with us that we went out there and it was a comfortable 4-1 win.'
Morison admitted it had been an honour to be part of Speed's squad.
'I had played against Sheffield United when he was manager and I was at Millwall so when he was appointed initially you start thinking how did I do in that game,' he said. 'Did I do well enough for him to still think I was any good. It was totally new. I just knew how much of a legend he was to the Welsh people and what he had done in the game. For me, knowing that he liked me as a player was a massive confidence boost for me from someone of his stature.'