Euro 2016: Gareth Bale says progress in tournament is "greatest honour"
Gareth Bale stated that the glorious run of Wales to the Euro 2016 semi-finals as the “greatest honour” he has had in his career but the team’s talisman also stressed that he had always believed that they could make an impression in this tournament.
Wales take on Portugal on Wednesday night in the first semi-final of the European Championships in France. Most people wouldn’t have expected them to be there, but they’ve had a marvellous run full of passion and endeavour and will be looking to best a Portugal side that haven’t been too impressive in the tournament.
Bale was well aware of the previous fairytale runs in the competition as he spoke to the media, “I fully believed that we could do something at this championship and that is why I booked my holiday for 11 July – the day after the final, Look at the fairytales of Greece and Denmark [at Euro 1992 and 2004] and you think: ‘Why can’t we do it?’
“We grew up as a team in qualifying, and we really learned a lot from our first two games here against Slovakia and England. We were a bit tentative against Slovakia and the England defeat was disappointing. We didn’t play our own game and we got sucked into it all a bit. Since then, we have really progressed and got a lot more confident. We have believed more and more as we have got the results.”
A star performer at Real Madrid
Bale has won the Champions League twice during his world record transfer to Real Madrid and he was asked how this campaign compared to those dizzying highs. “It’s difficult to describe what’s my greatest moment but for sure this is right up there. And it’s the greatest honour I’ve had. The biggest honour you can have is to play for your country and to be part of history, doing something the country has never been involved in, is an amazing achievement.
“We think it’s our time. We don’t want it to end here. We want to continue the journey and keep on fighting. Hopefully, we can make more history. We are going to go out and enjoy the occasion. We are not going to fear anything. We are not going to freeze.”
Bale seemed confident and focused in the press conference and recognized the need for Wales to keep improving as he went on to say,
“We have been having meetings to talk about the areas we can improve on. We know we played a good game against an incredible team in Belgium, but we still want to keep progressing.
“If we can improve those little one percenters all the way through the team and the performance, it will only help our game. You can never be totally satisfied.”
Wales will have to make do without Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies for their semi-final clash and will miss both players immensely, the former especially having been one of the best players in the tournament, but with Bale in bullish mood and a cohesive team in clinical form, they will battle to reach the Euro 2016 final.