'Together Stronger!' Wales & Gareth Bale can be proud of their Euro 2020 journey

Wales had clocked up 5,382 miles when they landed in Amsterdam and after watching his team knocked out by Denmark, manager Rob Page quipped that he still didn’t understand the tournament format.

Hosting the Euros across 11 countries in the midst of a global pandemic has been a logistical challenge for teams, fans and reporters.

Wales got a raw deal in terms of the locations of their matches, yet with this they seemed to take on a siege mentality.

In Baku against Turkey the stadium was filled – as much as it could be – with Turkish fans. In Rome it was the same story.

Stood pitchside, and even though the stadium was barely a quarter full, the Italian anthem was something to behold.

The weather in both Baku and Rome was unforgivingly hot at times, just standing still was enough to bring a sweat on. It was not an easy task to get out of Group A but Wales did brilliantly to take four points which proved enough for second.

Sometimes in the aftermath and emotion of a result we can forget what has been achieved. Denmark thrashing Wales 4-0 on Saturday evening was an unflattering exit but they can be proud of what came before.

Let’s not forget Page was not even supposed to be in charge for this tournament. Every time I interviewed him he was engaging, passionate and relishing the opportunity.

I also sat down with Gareth Bale. He keeps his cards close to his chest but has now insisted he will play for Wales for as long as he plays at all.

The 31-year-old showed his importance to Wales with his star-of-the-match performance against Turkey. The missed penalty invigorated him even more to help pull the team through and push them towards the last 16.

The Danes awaited, two weeks on from the shocking collapse of Christian Eriksen.

Somehow they regathered and progressed, becoming the first ever side to go through after losing the first two group games. They deserved the victory against Wales but refereeing decisions on the pitch went in their favour.

Kieffer Moore was fouled in the build-up to the second goal, the big striker having been told to jump with his arms by his side when he came on against Italy to avoid a yellow card that would cause him to miss the next game.

However, Moore cut a frustrated figure after being booked against the Danes.

Wales started brightly but Andreas Christensen’s smart move into midfield nullified their threats and allowed Denmark to comfortably reach the quarter-finals.

There was yet another tough decision for Wales late on, Harry Wilson’s red for a late tackle seemed harsh.

Wales’ key message is ‘Together Stronger’. This is a nation who had not qualified for a major tournament between 1958 and Euro 2016. Generations missed out on supporting their country on the big stage but many of today’s children can be inspired having watched their country compete.

When speaking to Aaron Ramsey for ITV he explained just how far that football development has come, something many credit to the late Gary Speed and the direction he began to move the set-up towards.

His work was continued by Chris Coleman with those magical moments five years ago. A specific youth talent pathway is in place, and the products from it are playing for their country.

Eight of the Euro 2016 squad remained this time around and there is plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future with the majority of the squad under 25.

Page lamented the fact many of his squad lacked regular game time in the domestic season and it is something the individuals must address, the likes of Joe Morrell and Danny Ward having barely featured for their clubs.

Meanwhile, there is probably no country more together than Denmark right now.

They become the first side to score four goals in consecutive games in a European Championship. Their extraordinary story continues to Baku and momentum is with them.

For more stories like this, check our sport page

Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

How to get your Metro newspaper fix

Metro newspaper is still available for you to pick up every weekday morning or you can download our app for all your favourite news, features, puzzles… and the exclusive evening edition!

Download the Metro newspaper app for free on App Store and Google Play

Source: Read Full Article