Bale hails ‘amazing achievement’

Gareth Bale is overjoyed that Wales have made it through the last 16, and believes the time has come for Wales to truly shine on the world stage.

Wales are the only country in the United Kingdom to have made it to the quarter-finals of the European Championship, outlasting their last 16 opponents Northern Ireland as well as England, while neighbours Republic of Ireland have also been sent home.

Earlier this week, a video emerged of Wales players celebrating Iceland’s shock victory over England, but Bale said it was just a reflection of happiness at their own achievement.

“We’re happy,” the Real Madrid star said. “It’s our time to shine. We’re the last ones left and it’s an amazing achievement in itself.

“The Northern Ireland game was a very ugly one that wasn’t suited to us but to play an ugly game and win shows our spirit and character. We’re very happy and proud to fly the flag.”

It’s not about to get any easier for Wales, however, with a last eight match-up against a powerful Belgium side awaiting them on Friday.

But the Dragons will take tremendous heart from having beaten Belgium in Cardiff during their qualifying campaign for the Euros.

“It was a changing moment for us as a team and we’re still riding off the confidence,” Bale said. “Just one of those where it gave us that extra belief we could really do it. We always did believe but it was a snowball effect.

“From beating Belgium – No 2 in the world at time – it gives you extra confidence and takes you to the next level, we’ve gone up a level and taken our game on.”

Bale also paid tribute to manager Chris Coleman, who he credits for much of their success on the pitch.

“The preparation is second to none,” he said.

“We have meetings about what we need to do, when we need to do it, how we need to do it and he makes sure every single player knows exactly what they need to do.

“He’s been incredible and hopefully he can help continue the rise of Wales and hopefully we can get further in this competition.”