Welsh football star Gareth Bale has praised his team’s show of “pride and passion” at the European Championship and has urged the side to target regular qualification for major tournaments in future after their remarkable campaign in Euro 2016.
“It’s very disappointing to be so close to the final but this is a proud moment for us. We have achieved a lot. We had pride and passion and the fans are the best in the world, by far. We wish we could have done it for them but we’ve given everything on the pitch, off the pitch. We’ve tried to enjoy the experience of the tournament and we’ve had a taste of it now, so we look forward to the future,” Bale told the media after the loss.
“We have confidence and we don’t want to turn up to one tournament. It’s about the bigger picture. We’re disappointed but we’ll pick ourselves up. We’re a proud bunch and we’ll stick together, lift the spirits and go again. Nobody expected us to get this far but we’re very proud and have no regrets. We’ll continue to battle on.”
Bale also said he believes the national team will be more respected now after such an impressive show.
“I think we’ve grown in confidence and grown in stature. We’ll be more respected now. We said all along, we don’t just want to qualify for this tournament; we want to qualify for major tournaments every time we go into qualifiers,” he said.
“The hunger’s there, the spirit’s there. We’ll take all the positives and go into the next campaign trying to pull that off again.”
Wales will face Austria, Serbia and the Republic of Ireland in qualification Group D to reach the World Cup in Russia.