Wales seeking to recreate the spirit of Euro 2016 after stunning run saw them reach 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 are recreating the spirit of 2016 as they seek to live up to the achievements of their extraordinary run to the semi-finals in the last European Championship.
The ‘Together Stronger’ motto became a legendary part of Wales’ tournament and the message has been posted at selected places around the team hotel.
‘We have all messages on the walls like “Together Stronger” and stuff in Welsh and in English to make us feel at home,’ said defender Ben Cabango.
Wales are looking to recreate the spirit of 2016 after a stunning run saw them reach the semis
The squad arrived for a first training session on Monday 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 has also featured prominently in the camp, with nine players competing with each other from their own rooms — a sign of the different world from 2016 the pandemic has created.
Bournemouth’s David Brooks is the lead driver so far, ahead of keeper Adam Davies, whose DJ-ing experience has also seen him put in charge of squad music. House music features prominently.
The PlayStation F1 contingent have ‘raced’ the Azerbaijan Grand Prix course, set out amid the streets of Baku, which is yet to be fully dismantled after Sunday’s Formula One race.
A few random Welsh flags were draped on market stalls on Tuesday, though this is nothing like the way that the Brittany town of Dinard adopted Wales in when hosting them in 2016.
Robert Page’s side have begun training in Baku ahead of their Euros opener with Turkey
Gareth Bale has already played down the idea that 2016 can be a motivating factor, conscious that it will impossible to recreate that summer, when Wales fans flooded France.
Fewer than 500 are expected to travel this time, with the Football Association of Wales advising against it. Defender Connor Roberts said Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen had told the younger players it would differ from last time.
‘They have said there isn’t that expectation in terms of the fans as there will not be the red wall here that there was in 2016,’ the Swansea City full back said.
‘They’ve said that summer was the summer of their lives. If we can emulate anything near that it will be unbelievable.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have warned the younger players the atmosphere will be different without their ‘red wall’ of fans
‘We have plenty of young players who have not even been to a tournament before. We want to make our own memories.’
The Welsh players saw far more Turkish flags then Welsh ones as their coach delivered them to training, since historic ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan are very deep.
There will be far more Turkish fans than Welsh ones when the two sides meet in the Olympic Stadium on June 16.