“Don’t be afraid to have dreams”
Speaking in the aftermath of Wales’ remarkable 3-1 win over Belgium, Chris Coleman found the words to sum up the mood of a nation on the brink of history. Wales, a country of 3 million, a country where rugby is king and football a very distant second, has become the smallest population to ever reach the semi-finals of the European Championship.
They are the paupers of British football; where England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a history to speak of, be it tinged by years of disappointment, hurt and regret, Wales have none. Constantly the laughing stock they are defined by near misses, failures and rank embarrassment, while recent memories are laced with tragedy.
A narrow defeat to Yugoslavia denied them a place at the Euros in 1980, and Mike England’s side missed out on two World Cup appearances later that decade thanks to goal difference.