Wales’ first and only appearance in the World Cup was in 1958 in Sweden, under manager Jimmy Murphy, in which they reached the quarter finals, but subsequently got knocked out by Brazil.
As a result of tragic circumstances regarding Gary Speed, Chris Coleman was appointed manager of the Wales national team on 19 January 2012. This year, under Coleman, saw the appointment of Ashley Williams as captain after replacing Aaron Ramsey. Following this, unfortunately, Wales failed to qualify for the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
However, 2016 was the most successful year in Welsh football history since their World Cup experience almost 60 years earlier. Coleman’s squad entered 2016 ranked 8th in the world after attaining this title from FIFA only a couple of months prior. Wales had qualified for the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, which presented the opportunity for Wales to prove themselves in a big campaign. Doing exactly that, Wales faced Belgium in the quarter finals, astonishingly beating the Belgian side 3-1, which confirmed Wales’ place in the semi-finals of their first European Championship tournament. After losing 2-0 to Portugal in the semi-final, the team were welcomed back to Wales by a patriotic crowd of red flowing through the capital city, with the Welsh manager smiling from ear to ear, proud of his country and of his team’s remarkable achievement.
Wales then entered their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign with a new-found confidence and quality. After an unbeaten run of 9 games in the campaign, Wales were one step away from solidifying their place in the World Cup after a 60-year absence, with one remaining game against the Republic of Ireland. 30,000 Wales fans arrived in the Cardiff City Stadium to witness one of the most anticipated games in Welsh football history. The national anthem rang proudly across the country with hopes that their team could make it to Russia. In the 57th minute of the game, all hope for qualification was lost after James McClean’s goal ruined Wales’ chances.
Even after claims that this ever-passionate country was a one-man football team, they still exceeded the expectations of many. With Chris Coleman playing a pivotal role, he took his whole country on a journey that will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Chris.
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featured image credit sky sports