Did senior Wales players beg Chris Coleman to stay before he took charge at Sunderland? Reading defender speaks out

Sunderland manager Chris Coleman pictured during his time in charge of Wales.
Sunderland manager Chris Coleman pictured during his time in charge of Wales.
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Chris Gunter has denied player-power tried to keep Ryan Giggs' predecessor Chris Coleman as Wales manager.

Wales' new era under Giggs starts on Thursday as the Dragons kick off the China Cup against the hosts in Nanning, with the Czech Republic and Uruguay also involved in the four-team tournament.

It is the first time the Wales squad has been together since Coleman - who guided the country to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 - surprisingly chose to end his six-year stay as national-team boss in November and take over at struggling Sunderland.

Sunderland remain bottom-of-the-table and are currently heading for League One but Coleman has repeatedly stressed he has no regrets over leaving Wales.

Gunter was among a group of senior players who reportedly lobbied Coleman to remain in charge of the national team before he agreed to take over at Sunderland, but Gunter said: "It was made out that there was a group of players who were knocking his hotel door and begging him to stay.

"It wasn't quite like that because players don't really have an influence on what happens above.

"Certainly this group of players wouldn't think just because we've done well in the past we deserve the right to make decisions like that.

"I know that's been said in the past about this group of players, but it's not the case.

"Everybody wanted the manager to stay and, as footballers, you buy into what's happening at the time.

"We wanted the manager to stay, because he was a massive part of Welsh history and everybody loved playing under him.

"But in this case I think we were the last to know what was going on."

Gunter is now looking forward to working under Giggs, a team-mate at the start of his Wales career and a direct opponent when he was a Tottenham youngster.

"My second game for Tottenham was in the cup away to (Manchester) United," Gunter said.

"I came on after about 60 minutes and I remember saying something like 'do me a favour'.

"Two minutes after I came on - it was 1-1 at the time - Michael Dawson got sent off for a handball, gave away a penalty, and we were 2-1 down with a three-man defence!"

The Reading defender, 28, is set to win his 86th cap against China and set a new Wales record for an outfield player, eclipsing the mark of Gary Speed.

"It would be quite special to me because of that, and who I would move above," Gunter said.

"Getting this far is not something that you think about when you are playing.

"But I'm absolutely honoured to get to that number and to say I've represented my country that many times.

"The journey along the way has given me some of the best days of my life."