The return of Albania’s national team to Wales could be a big moment for a country that, to this day, has yet to win a match at a major tournament. The visit is being seen as a bit of a homecoming for the Albanian players, too, as many of them grew up watching the Red Wall in action at their local stadiums during the 1990s.
After a long wait, Gareth Bale will finally return to the Wales football team, which is currently preparing for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, as the squad travels to Tirana to play Albania in a friendly on June 16th.
The Red Wall will return to the Welsh national team’s squad ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifiers, with their hopes of qualifying for the finals in Croatia rooted firmly in the group.
When Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016, fans were nicknamed the Red Wall. One of the best decisions the Football Association of Wales has made in recent times is the abolition of music during the national anthem. Unimpressed with the pre-recorded soundtrack, the audience at Cardiff City Stadium sang Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau with an almost religious reverence. But the stands have been empty since November 2019. For too long there has been a cappella football in Wales. That will change on Saturday when a limited number of fans return for the match against Albania, Wales’ last before Euro 2020. While a friendly international against a lowly opponent is usually viewed with indifference, this will be a homecoming that will stir the souls of the 6,500 spectators at the Cardiff City Stadium. While club football is slowly bringing fans back, the wait is off for those who follow Wales. At least they are used to waiting – it was 58 years between their first and second major tournament. The Welsh fans are very loyal. In times of stagnation – and there have been many, many more than in times of prosperity – they have gone by the hundreds to obscure parts of the world. These journeys, the collective fears of the many failures and defeats, are why Euro 2016 was so cathartic, so joyous. Those hundreds grew into thousands, and in France these huge masses of Welsh supporters were called the Red Wall. This mass of red shirts accompanied the team everywhere until the pandemic broke out last year, and since then there have only been empty stands in Wales. Saturday’s match against Albania will be their moment of return, even if it is only a fleeting one. The Football Association of Wales and the Welsh Government have advised Welsh fans against travelling to Baku and Rome for the European Championship group matches, meaning that this match will be the only opportunity for the vast majority of them to cheer on their team ahead of the third major tournament in the country’s history. It would be great if we can get a send-off like that before we leave for the European leagues, said team captain Gareth Bale. It’s only 6,500 people, but I’m sure they’ll make it look like a full stadium. Gareth Bale: Wales captain delighted with surprise return fans before Albania match The Red Wall, though missing key pieces, have never been happier than in a little-attended match known to all who have led Wales to success in recent years. Bale and other more experienced members of that team also remember lean times. They have played in a few of those, while the Welsh teams of their youth have rarely come close to qualifying. Chris Gunter, the only man to score 100 points for the Wales national team, was a fan before he became a player and followed Cardiff City and the Wales national team home and away. He embodies, perhaps more than any of his teammates, the deep bond that the Wales national team has with its supporters. In a typical self-critical move, he said in 2016: Maybe because I’ve been working here for a few years and never reached the top, I think I’m as close to a fan as you can get. Gunter remains the voice of the fans on the field. He provided one of the most memorable images of Euro 2016 when he signalled to the Welsh fans in Lens after the defeat to England at half-time that they should keep their hands up. Chris Gunter is one of eight members of the 2016 Wales squad remaining for Euro 2020. The Red Sea will not be with Wales this summer, although some particularly determined lads will pay the price of quarantine to make the trip. It won’t be like 2016 – it won’t be anything – but as Wales battle in Baku and Rome, Gunter will still be thinking about the Red Wall. There will be a moment, maybe at the first national anthem, maybe when we score a goal, you would think: And if the fans were there, he told Sport Wales. We know how it was and how it could be. I’ve seen people in football say that we need the fans and that they are important to the players. I have more respect for them, for the fans in fact, who make the effort to go to places they are almost not allowed to go. We’re still going to spend most of the movie and they’re going to miss it, so we’re just hoping that if everything can be arranged at home, people can get together and watch it, in the fan zones or whatever, and enjoy it to the fullest. At the end of the day, the players and the fans know that the players will give everything for the fans, and we know that the fans will support us at home the best they can. This bond will always exist as long as we feel it. The Red Wall have invited Wales for a friendly. Albania have a history of being rude hosts to national teams, having previously abused the opportunities they’ve been given. The manager of the Red Wall has said that he wants the world to see what Wales are really made of, with the Welsh press also reporting that the Red Wall have not been shy in the way they have been preparing for the game.. Read more about faw tickets and let us know what you think.
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