Wales’ journey to Euro 2016 – remembering when 58 years of hurt were put to bed

ARTICLE by Owain Davies.

(Picture by Sky Sports).

THE journey of our national team reaching the European Championships back in 2016 is an unforgettable one.

On Saturday, October 10 2015, it was confirmed that Chris Coleman had led the nation to its first major championships in 58 years, having last appeared at the World Cup in 1958.

Although Coleman’s dragons had lost 2-0 that night in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the wild celebrations of the Red Wall were well and truly underway when news of qualification was confirmed as Cyprus gave us a helping hand by beating Israel by two goals to one on their own turf.

The 57 years must have felt like a lifetime for the passionate Welsh fans (particularly those who were alive when we last qualified for a major tournament) but their dreams were fulfilled thanks to Chris Coleman and his talented squad of players.

When the 750 traveling fans in Zenica heard that Cyprus were leading, the small portion of red gathered in the stadium erupted. The ecstatic atmosphere continued into the following Tuesday night match as Wales welcomed Andorra to Cardiff. The final game of the historic campaign was a chance for fans to show their appreciation for their heroes in red, who responded to that applause with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.

This proved to be the “icing on top of the cake” as a historic campaign was brought to a close.

The satisfied fans were given the green light to order their tickets to head to France for what promised to be an unforgettable summer. However, few could have imagined exactly what happened at Euro 2016.

Chris Coleman and assistant Osian Roberts came up with an effective five-at-the-back tactic that proved to be very successful at the tournament – a formation which was revolutionary in Coleman’s reign as Wales boss and led to the, by now, iconic chant “Chrissie Coleman Had A Dream” which had echoed its way across the seas to France.

There was no pressure on the boys in red at the tournament, as they had already exceeded their expectations by reaching the finals. They went on to top the group (which included England, Russia and Slovakia), knocked Northern Ireland and Belgium out before eventually bowing out to eventual champions Portugal in the semi-finals.

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