Great To Be Welsh

Wednesday, 16 October 2002, 0:01
1 min read

Tonight we saw Wales take on the once-mighty Italians in Cardiff and the team did us proud. To a man there was not one person on the park who let us down, a fact borne out by the fact that Mark Hughes left it until the 2nd minute of injury time before he decided to make a substitution. At times, it felt like Wales against twelve men as the referee gave us very little and also seemed to be carrying a personal vendetta against Robbie Savage.

In fairness, at the start of the game, Savage seemed to let the occasion over-run him and appeared that he may have been a little too fired up but I think a word to the wise was given at half time and the second half saw him channel his agression in the right way – closing the Italians down and not letting them get to the ball or establish any pattern. Up front we saw John Hartson win most things during the second half and of course he set up Craig Bellamy for the all important goal. Andy Melville and Gabbiadon were rocks at the heart of the defence and were ably supported at the back by Mark Delaney and captain Gary Speed. But it is in midfield at the moment that Wales, for me, really excell. Simon Davies is a growing talent that just seems to get better and better and along with Savage, Bellamy, Pembridge and Giggs it’s easy to see why this Welsh team is getting results against some of the top players in the World.

Let’s not forget that these results we are gaining now have been coming for two years. OK, we didn’t qualify for the World Cup but the signs were there and we are now off and running and top the group after two games. Italy, the seeds in the group, are two points back and have played a game more. The hard work has begun and we now need to compliment this work in the two games to come against Azerbaijan, the weakest team in the group. And let’s not forget that we finish with two games in front of sure fire capacity crowds in the Millennium Stadium. I firmly believe that we are capable of beating anyone there and I am sure that the Welsh players will admit that the crowd helped them along tonight. Full credit as well to the Welsh FA for getting the Manic Street Preachers to warm up the crowd and to hear Bryn Terfel sing the National Anthem really made the atmosphere that much more impressive.

Who could argue at the moment that Wales look the strongest of the home nations following the England results over the last couple of days and for once, could we have Englishmen arguing whether they should follow Wales at a National Tournament rather than the other way around.

Portugal in the summer of 2004 anyone? Cymru am Byth!

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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