When I was in school I used to ask my friends about the names of the four countries in Great Britain. Everyone mentioned England. Most of them mentioned Scotland. Some of them mentioned Ireland. Very few remembered Wales. Well, not anymore!
6th July 2016. A day when football fans were glued to the television set watching the semi finals of Euro. Little did they know agony was about to hit most of them. An underdog story was about to end in tears.
When Portugal and Wales met in the semi finals, the whole world was backing Wales except maybe for the ardent supporters of Portugal. And why wouldn’t they? Everybody loves an underdog and Wales was their protagonist of this one. A team that exceeded all expectations, considered as a contender by a handful, was standing in front of Portugal’s Euro dream.
Wales have created history by qualifying for the first time ever in Euro. Reaching the semi finals was the cherry on top. Over the course of the tournament, they stood toe to toe with their British brother England. The scalps they took on their way here were even more impressive. Russia, Slovakia, Northern Ireland and last but not the least Belgium. Yes Belgium! A team touted as one the top contenders for the Euro were bested fair and square and square by none other than Wales. Their run in Euro’16 became reminiscent of Greece’s run in 2004 where the Greeks had emerged as champions.
Half the world wanted Wales to pull off a Greece here, not because they had anything against Portugal but for the determination that Wales had shown and for the hope that Wales has given to other teams low in the rankings, a hope to reach out and grab.
Still, Wales should be proud of what they have achieved. They couldn’t win the trophy but they did win a million hearts. It is just a matter of time before Wales would be a force to reckon with, and the time is almost upon us. They are set to receive a boost in rankings and would be placed above England which further vindicates the fact. I take the liberty of saying, “Wales are going to be the ‘whales’ of the blue-soccer sea.”
Ali Shaan Haider
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