Wales have done it, they’ve gone further than their own fans believed, further than Northern Ireland and further than England.
They’re now in a win:win situation; they’ve gone above expectations, and they aren’t expected to do much against Belgium. However, with Gareth Bale, the tournament’s joint-top scorer, leading the line, they’ve got a chance of becoming one of the best four teams in Europe and making the semi-finals.
Wales could win against Belgium or Hungary you know. Semi final would be MENTAL
— Peter Miller (@TheCricketGeek) June 25, 2016
Pre-tournament, I was hard-pressed to find an Englishman or woman who wanted Wales to fail. The general consensus was that it was great the boys in red had finally achieved qualification to a European Championships, and, apart from when they’d be playing the Three Lions, we wished them every success.
Then we had the pre-match propaganda war cry from Wales’ talisman:
“It is like any derby, you never want to lose to the enemy. I think we’ve got a lot more passion and pride about us than them. We’ll definitely show that on the day.”
Sure, the Real Madrid man is obviously going to say such cliches. However, with every press conference it get more and more personal, from saying that none of the England squad would get into the Welsh team to saying that Wales are basically better in every aspect than the Three Lions. It was no longer feeding the fans what they wanted to hear, it was words from a guy who was bitter towards England.
The mood changed.
Bale was no longer the Brit doing it abroad for the United Kingdom, he was no longer the likeable chap who went from woeful left-back to the world’s most expensive attacker and yet remained a decent chap; he was the prick, who had, had one too many on a night out and was starting on you for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
And then Daniel Sturridge’s last-minute happened.
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) June 22, 2016
Due to Bale’s comments, the Liverpool striker finding the back of the net, so late in the game, turned fans of the Three Lions celebrations from joy for their nation to “haha fuck you, Bale”.
Welsh fans tweeted how proud they were of their country, acted like they weren’t fussed and secretly hoped they’d get revenge, in some form, very quickly.
They didn’t have to wait long; England failed to breakdown a disgracefully defensive Slovakia, whilst Wales picked apart a Russian side that had to come out and attack to keep their Euro 2016 hopes alive.
Wales had gone through as group leaders. Amazing.
What happened next is still pretty hard to process – or not that hard if you were a sensible football fan who realised England were, well, England – and the Three Lions went out to Iceland and Wales undeservedly knocked Northern Ireland out.
Then we had this unprofessional shower of shite.
Incredible scenes as Wales celebrate England's exit from Euro 2016 at the hands of Iceland!pic.twitter.com/ZWJJPvs9qI
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) June 28, 2016
Ignoring the disgracefulness of it all, it’s just a bit tragic for Wales. I mean, they’re enjoying their greatest achievement as an international team and yet, they just can’t help themselves, they can’t get the chip off their shoulder when it comes to England.
It is for that reason, England fans should pull together and support our United Kingdom pals. Because there’s nothing more annoying than just smiling at someone who wants an argument with you.
Wales have let themselves down, and the shame of that will never hit them. But there will be a few awkward conversations in Premier League dressing rooms come August 13th.