Neil Taylor believes “unbelievable” Wales can galvanise the nation at Euro 2020 just like the team he played in five years ago.
Taylor was part of the Wales side which reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and returned from France as heroes with thousands of fans lining the streets of Cardiff to greet them.
It was the first time the nation had qualified for a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup, but Wales are back at the European Championship finals again next month and line up in a group also featuring Italy, Switzerland and Turkey.
“I don’t think there should be. From a fan’s situation it’s obviously going to be very difficult given the year we’ve all just had.
“But there can be nothing better than a successful Welsh team this summer. So the message to them would be you can galvanise a nation again.
“Everybody is coming out of the lockdown and being able to get back in pubs and bars inside and in their gardens to watch the games.
“That is the Welsh fans. Forget about expectation, especially if it’s your first tournament.”
Wales head into the cross-continent tournament – the side led by Gareth Bale play Switzerland and Turkey in the Azerbaijani capital Baku before meeting Italy in Rome – after a turbulent build-up that has seen Robert Page replace Ryan Giggs as manager.
Giggs, who has been on leave from his role since November, has been charged with assaulting two women and controlling or coercive behaviour. He denies the charges.
“Rob Page has done brilliantly and they’ve just got to go in there knowing a whole nation is behind them no matter what,” Taylor told the Football Association of Wales’ National Coaches’ Conference.
“They’ve had a lot to deal with in the last few months as a team and still produced results, and in qualifying they did unbelievable, to get to the tournament so comfortably was admirable.
“They should just go in there with their heads held high and with confidence because this Welsh team is good.”
The only goal of his international career came in the 3-0 victory over Russia in Toulouse that booked Wales’ place in the last 16.
“I know a lot of the players talk about the fact they were fans that summer in parks watching the tournament,” Taylor said.
“Now they’re going to be playing at a tournament – what a feeling for them knowing what they can do for a nation this summer.
“But I’d say just enjoy it and soak it up. We probably wish we did a bit more, because it just comes and goes so quickly.”