Capping off an impressive Euro-2016 qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Andorra, Wales secured their first trip to a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup in fine fashion. Although he may not have been at the center of the celebrations, Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen played an important role as they finished second behind Belgium in their group with boss Chris Coleman hailing his contribution — and defending him to Reds fans that doubt his ability to compete at the highest level.
“I think when he went to Liverpool for £15 million, certain people expected a different type of player,” mused the former Fulham manager of a player that’s been a constant presence in his team. “But he’s very simple in his game, he keeps it simple, he breaks play up and just makes the easiest pass,” he continued, breaking down the Welshman’s style into basic terms before adding, “But he keeps possession for his team, and for us he’s been absolutely magnificent.”
Infamously hailed by former boss Brendan Rodgers as the “Welsh Xavi” when he arrived at Anfield during the Northern Irishman’s first summer in charge, Allen hasn’t quite lived up to that lofty comparison quite yet, but the 25-year old could see a reverse in fortunes under new boss Jurgen Klopp with the German valuing the kind of intense pressing and controlled passing that the diminutive midfielder can provide. It might not be on the same level as the Barcelona legend, but it’s not something he ever really took to heart to begin with.
“For some people it probably is,” said Allen, admitting that the compliment has been used in a negative way just as much as a positive one. “It is some player to be compared to. I don’t take things like that too seriously. Some people have maybe used that in a negative way but from my point of view you have to look at it as something that should flatter you,” he continued before adding his own positive spin, “It should inspire you to become as good as someone like that.”