Joe Allen believes Wales pair Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have proved the critics wrong in “special fashion” at Euro 2020.
Bale and Ramsey shone as Wales beat Turkey 2-0 on Wednesday to move within touching distance of the round-of-16.
Ramsey opened the scoring in Baku and Bale atoned for his second-half penalty miss with two superb assists as Wales made it four points from two games.
“I think some people probably had the narrative drawn up long before that game,” Allen told Sky Sports News.
“When you’re world-class players like Gareth and Aaron the focus is always going to be on you.
“I think the pair of them were incredible the other night and certainly answered the critics in special fashion.”
Bale had a mixed season on loan at Tottenham from Real Madrid as former Spurs head coach Jose Mourinho often kept him on the bench before his exit in April.
The Wales captain made just 10 Premier League starts but scored 16 goals in all competitions and finished the top-flight campaign strongly with a hat-trick against Sheffield United and two goals against Leicester City on the final day of the season.
Ramsey had a stop-start season with form and fitness issues at Juventus, but the midfielder returns to Italy on Sunday for Wales’ final Group A fixture looking sharp.
Italy have impressed with successive 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland, but Stoke midfielder Allen believes Wales will benefit from being underdogs at the Stadio Olimpico.
“It suits us down to the ground,” Allen said. “We know we can rely on being solid defensively.
“We know that everyone’s going to put a shift in and give absolutely everything to protect our own goal.
“And with the likes of Gareth and Aaron linking up, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore, we’ve got all sorts of threats.
“We’ve got threats off the bench as well that bring different attributes. We’ve got the ability to hurt teams.”
Connor Roberts says he “never dreamed” of scoring a goal for Wales in a major tournament and experienced “pure euphoria” after netting in the 2-0 win against Turkey at Euro 2020.
Roberts, who also featured for the duration of the 1-1 draw with Switzerland, was playing in League Two on loan at Yeovil Town five years ago before Wales’ memorable summer in France and the defender admits it is surreal to be a part of the national team’s success in the competition this time around.
When asked about his emotions following the triumph over Turkey,” the Swansea City right-back told Sky Sports News. “Pure euphoria to be honest, for me, it is unbelievable to be playing for Wales in a major competition and then to score it’s just indescribable if I’m honest.
“I won’t say it’s a dream come true, I never dreamed it because I never thought it would ever happen and it has so I’ll keep on smiling.
“I think for little old Wales to be here is an achievement in itself, for every game we play to do all right or to win is just a bonus.
“We have good players who played well the other night and we can take that into the next game, but anything from now is a bonus and hopefully we can keep going really.
“We’re a small country, we’ve not got much [many players] to choose from. We’ve got players playing in the Championship all over the park and yes, we’ve got two or three world-class players at the end of the pitch but yeah, we are little old Wales.
“We’ll keep fighting for every scrap and in every game we’ll give our all.
“If that creates more memories like it did the other night and we go one, two or three steps further then that’s what we want and is what we’re working towards but we don’t have that sense of expectation on our back and we’ll just enjoy the journey.”