Wales tried to recreate the spirit of Euro 2016 after a stunning run and reached the semi-finals… but Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey warn the younger stars it will be a different atmosphere without their ‘red wall’ of fans
Wales recreate the spirit of 2016 as they try to live up to the performance of their extraordinary run to the semi-finals in the last European Championship.
The motto ‘Together Stronger’ became a legendary part of the Wales tournament and the message has been placed in select places in the team hotel.
“We all have messages on the walls like ‘Together Stronger’ and stuff in Welsh and English to make us feel at home,” said defender Ben Cabango.
Wales aim to recreate the spirit of 2016 after reaching the semi-finals with a stunning run
The squad arrived Monday for a first practice session at the Tofiq Bahramov Republican stadium – named after the linesman who awarded Geoff Hurst a goal for England against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.
PlayStation F1 also featured prominently in the camp, with nine players battling each other from their own rooms – a sign of the different world the pandemic has created since 2016.
Bournemouth’s David Brooks is the lead driver to date, ahead of goalkeeper Adam Davies, whose DJ experience has also put him in charge of squad music. House music is prominent.
The PlayStation F1 contingent has ‘raced’ the Azerbaijani Grand Prix track, which has been laid out on the streets of Baku, which is yet to be completely dismantled after Sunday’s Formula 1 race.
A few random Welsh flags were draped on market stalls on Tuesday, although this is nothing like the way the Breton town of Dinard adopted Wales when they hosted them in 2016.
Robert Page’s side has started training in Baku ahead of their European Championship opener with Turkey
Gareth Bale has already downplayed the idea that 2016 could be a motivating factor, aware it will be impossible to recreate that summer when Wales fans flooded France.
Fewer than 500 are expected to travel this time around, and the Football Association of Wales is advising against it. Defender Connor Roberts said Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen had told the younger players it would be different from last time.
“They’ve said there’s not that expectation in terms of the fans because there won’t be the red wall here that there was in 2016,” said the Swansea City fullback.
“They said summer was the summer of their lives. If we can imitate something close by, it will be incredible.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have warned the younger players that the atmosphere will be different without their ‘red wall’ of fans
“We have plenty of young players who haven’t even been to a tournament before. We want to make our own memories.’
The Wales players saw many more Turkish flags than Wales’s when their coach brought them to training, as the historical ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan are very deep.
There will be many more Turkish fans than Welsh fans when the two sides meet at the Olympic Stadium on June 16.