Thursday, 7 July 2016

They Finished 4th: WALES

The Dragons did good. Real good. Bale started it with a mesmerising freekick against Slovakia, kickstarting a journey that took them all the way to the semi-finals.

Few in their own ranks expected it, with weddings and holidays booked by players for the latter stages of the contest. BBC pundit and former Welsh striker Dean Saunders left his car in a short stay car park at the airport, not expecting his services to be required beyond the group stage, thus incurring a daily fine of £100 for his car overstaying its welcome.

There will be more such stories shared with descendants in the years to come. Those who were there in the flesh or watched on screen will smile as they recall the great run of 2016. The reds came totally out of the blue. World-class Bale was always going to be their trump card, but was it Arsenal’s Ramsey who’ll get their player of the tournament honours, the man they desperately missed in the semis while he served a suspension?

But to single out individuals would be to overlook the team mentality that pervaded throughout the squad, harnessed by Coach Coleman. No fear were the watchwords, and there was none of that in their stand out beating of the Belgians, despite going 1 down.

Perhaps it was tiredness to blame for the semi-final under-performance. But it would be unkind for the Welsh to be remembered for that. Remember instead the Bale freekicks, the Robson-Kanu turn, the taming of Belgium and the sea of red shirted fans belting out their anthem.

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