Printer Friendly

Win or lose, this is a night to savour for Wales as they shoot another scene in this incredible movie.

Byline: BIG MATCH PREVIEW CHRIS WATHAN WITH THE WALES SQUAD IN LYON

SAVOUR it.

Savour each and every passing moment. Take in every song, every kick, every second. Soak in every sight, sound, feeling.

Savour it because these things do not happen very often.

The magnitude of what is happening right now will not become clear for a very long time, not for fans nor for Chris Coleman's side that are already guaranteed their place in history whatever happens in this evening's semi-final with Portugal. The extent of the achievement won't be fully appreciated for long after the cries of 'Don't Take Me Home' finally leave these French cities that have been enveloped in red, awash with smiles and shaking heads.

Because these things don't happen very often, these opportunities are not always there.

Not for Wales, not for anyone. It is a cliche to suggest it is all out of a movie but, in the city where the Lumiere brothers filmed the first motion picture, it is fitting.

With the scene set in Lyon, the birthplace of cinema, what is happening has to be seen to believed. It has to be savoured.

It is a story that started long before Bordeaux and that win over Slovakia, one that already fulfilled the ambitions of so many supporters starved of such joy for so long.

It is a story that needs the context of history, of heartbreak, of apathy, of an agonising faith in the future.

It is a story that can continue because sometimes you just feel it is written for you.

That doesn't happen very often. That is why it needs to be savoured.

It is a mentality that has brought Wales to this point, just 90 minutes away from a major final and far beyond the thoughts of a supporterset who were initially simply happy with being able to collect their side's Panini's stickers.

Wales are beyond happy to be here, but not simply happy to be here. Therein lies the key; they are savouring it, but are not in awe of it.

Lyon is known as the capital of French cuisine but it is the taste of the tournament experience that has brought the best out of this side, furthering their hunger for more.

Starved of success for so long, unable to make the country proud as they flirted with their potential, they are making the most of this. They are savouring every second.

That is why there is no sense of satisfaction with simply reflecting on what they have achieved so far, as fine as it has been.

With every passing game, with every passing challenge and means of victory, Wales have simply looked to the next game. They savour the moment, but then they seek the next one.

It is why, for those around the squad here in France, it still seems strange to talk of a semi-final and possible showpiece finale at the Stade de France this Sunday. The manner in which they have moved onto the next moment makes it all feel like a series of fixtures, the stakes and jeopardy almost ignored until it is all released in emotion at the final whistle.

It is why there are smiles, not from pats on the back, but because of the thrill of all this. Players constantly ask about the scenes and the explosion of interest and excitement at home. They speak of the time they are sharing together in what is, quite simply, the time of their lives.

It is the time of all our lives. As Gareth Bale has said, it is Wales' time.

And they are savouring it, they are making the most of it. It almost feels as if Portugal are an inconvenience. "They are in our way," was how Coleman put it.

That is not to say they are not wary of the talent of this team in front of them.

They may not have impressed with their football or their cohesion as a team, but there is still plenty of talent and experience in there to allow Wales to continue as underdogs, even if they are having a harder job convincing the neutrals so besotted with the way they have attacked this tournament.

It might not be enough for this one final step to the final, one no-one had mentioned before this week (aside from a Real Madrid star giddy with belief, perhaps) . But Wales' attempts to savour this, to make the most of their opportunity, has seen them give themselves every chance in every game they have played - and will do so again.

"The worst thing that could have happened is us not getting our game right in the tournament, having worked so hard and waited so long," said Coleman yesterday, the manager the epitome of the side's balance of emotive determination and smiling appreciation of this incredible experience.

"That would have been a tough one for us, a huge step backwards. But this is all part of this team's journey.

"We're here to compete and learn and let's see if our best is good enough to compete against the best."

So far it has been, almost every step of the way.

They did not want to die wondering here, too much work has gone in by all to have come away with 'What Ifs.'.

There is a faith in each other's ability, a trust that the man next to them will be prepared to go as long, as hard, as fast and as deep into their lungs as they are. There is a refusal to let down their friend.

They have let no-one down and will not do so whatever happens here as they - and all of Wales - continues to savour it and continues to make the most of it.

They know these opportunities do not come around very often, they know that these days of our lives are to be seized, but they know there is only the expectations that they have placed on themselves that matter.

They shook off the weight of history from their shoulders in qualifying and are playing with a freedom that Portugal and their main star might not recognise.

There is nothing to be afraid of, there are only moments to savour.

CAPTION(S):

Chris Coleman takes in the surroundings in Lyon yesterday

Gareth Bale shares a joke with Jonny Williams yesterday as the Wales party visited the Stade de Lyon

Wales players and staff pose for a team group photo after a training session ahead of their UEFA Euro 2016 Championship Semi-Final match against Portugal at the Stade de Lyon PICTURES: Propaganda
COPYRIGHT 2016 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jul 6, 2016
Words:1103
Previous Article:time of transition; pick of the DAY BOY meets girl, bbc2, 10pm.
Next Article:BIG-MATCH GUIDE; PORTUGAL v WALES Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon, 8pm TV: ITV1, from 7.15pm; S4C 7.30pm.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters