Wales celebrate their return to the World Cup stage after more than half a century – and a late equaliser. The captain goes ahead again.
When the Wales players formed a circle after the final whistle and stood arm in arm on the pitch, one in the middle swore they were ready for the next task – of course it was Gareth Bale.
“He’s never let us down. It’s all about Gareth Bale again,” said coach Rob Page after the Dragons’ 1-1 (0-1) win over the USA in his team’s first group game at the Soccer World Cup in Qatar. The 33-year-old captain Bale secured the point from the point.
The star striker equalized in the 82nd minute with a penalty he was responsible for, after Timothy Weah had given the Americans the lead in front of 43,418 spectators (36th). He was “a million percent sure,” said Page in an interview with ITV television that Bale met. “No doubts in my head” – Bale confirmed it.
Wales last played at a World Cup in 1958
“I’m pretty happy, it couldn’t have gone better,” said the former Real Madrid pro, praising his team-mates: “The lads fought like lions.” The fact that Bale had recently helped his club Los Angeles FC win the US championship and now scored against the American side was another special touch to the attacker’s success story.
That gave the Welsh and their fans every reason to celebrate when they returned to the World Cup. Although they were in the 2016 European Championship semi-finals, they last played a World Cup tournament in 1958 when they lost in the quarter-finals to eventual title winners Brazil.
“It’s been 64 years but it was worth the wait. Seeing the Rote Wand celebrate was incredible,” Page said, looking at the fans. The next challenge awaits with the Iranian selection on Friday – and on Tuesday the Welsh team face England in the big game.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.