It was one of those nights when it was impossible not to shed a tear.
"There's only one Gary Speed" and "Speedo" reverberated around the stadium as Ed and Tommy, the teenage boys that were so proud of their father, embraced their grandparents Roger and Carol after singing Land of My Fathers alongside the Wales players with such pride. A minute's applause was already sweeping through the stands before Howard Webb had the chance to put the whistle to his lips to start the mark of respect to Speed.
Ed and Tommy had earlier led out the teams along with Aaron Ramsey, the injured captain who was dressed in shirt and tie, and Craig Bellamy, who fittingly wore the armband on an emotional evening when the Welsh public and leading figures from across the world of sport celebrated the life of one of the nation's favourite footballing sons. Roger and Carol, Speed's parents, hugged Chris Coleman, the new Wales manager, before taking their seats to watch a game where Costa Rica failed to read the script.
Not that Ed, Speed's eldest son, was disappointed with what he had seen. The 14-year-old went into the dressing room afterwards and showed extraordinary courage to give a speech that caused Coleman to come close to breaking down at his press conference.
"The two boys, Ed and Tom, what a credit," Coleman said. "Ed is 14 and he's come into the dressing room afterwards and given a little speech which anyone would have been proud of. It was absolutely amazing. There was not a tear in his eye. As strong as an ox. Brilliant."
Asked what Ed, who is with Wrexham's academy, had said, Coleman replied: "He just said: 'Look, my dad always said to me …'" the Wales manager's voice trailing off as he stopped mid-sentence to regain his composure. "He said this: 'My dad always said to me, If you do your best it's enough. And I think you lot did your best tonight, so that's enough.' What do you say to that when a 14-year-old boy who has just lost his dad speaks like that to bunch of professional footballers? That's bravery, isn't it?"
It was a remarkable thing to do at the end of a poignant occasion that provided a fitting tribute to Speed. G-A-R-Y was spelt out across the seats behind one of the goals and a montage of Speed's best moments were played on a giant TV screen before the game. Super Furry Animals performed on a stage in the corner of the stadium and there was a moving moment when Mike Peters sang Frankie Valli's Can't Take My Eyes Off You, which has become an unofficial anthem for Wales football fans and was played at Speed's wedding as well as his funeral.
Costa Rica had been selected as the opponents because Speed made his international debut against them as a 20-year-old in May 1990, coming on as a substitute for Glyn Hodges at Cardiff's former home, Ninian Park. It was the first of 85 caps that Speed won for his country, with 44 of them coming as captain.
His managerial career was only just starting and this week should have marked his 11th game in charge of his country. Speed's last match was at this same stadium a little more than three months ago, 15 days before he took his own life. Wales thumped Norway 4-1 and afterwards Speed remarked to a small group of reporters that he would not have been good enough to get into the side that had just recorded a fourth win in five matches. We all laughed and the expression on his face hardened. "I'm serious," he said.
Wales, missing the hamstrung Gareth Bale as well as Ramsey, failed to recapture that form here, although they could be forgiven for starting slowly and conceding a goal in the seventh minute, when Joel Campbell, the striker who joined Arsenal in the summer and is on loan at Lorient, beat Lewis Price. Steve Morison hit the crossbar, Bellamy volleyed over and Hal Robson-Kanu saw his curling effort turned behind as Wales pressed for the goal that would have given the scoreline a more satisfactory feel.
No one was more desperate to score than Bellamy, who departed to a standing ovation in the 74th minute on what could yet prove to be his final game for his country.
The evening, however, was about one man only, and it is a measure of how highly Speed was regarded by his peers that 50 former Wales internationals, including Ryan Giggs, Mark Hughes, Ian Rush and Kevin Ratcliffe, came on to the pitch at half-time to pay their respects.
Wales could have done with a couple of those players against Costa Rica. Most of all, though, they missed Gary Speed.