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Ben Davies Set To Join Welsh Football’s Elite

Ben Davies will become only the sixth Welshman to play in a European Cup final thanks to Tottenham’s incredible Champions League comeback win over Ajax.

The Wales defender – who came on to the field in Amsterdam in the 82nd minute on Wednesday night – was part of the Spurs team that earned an incredible 3-2 victory to draw the tie 3-3 on aggregate and go through to the final on away goals.

Spurs were level at 2-2 when Davies came on, but their epic comeback from 2-0 down on the night, and 3-0 overall, was sealed when Lucas Moura clinched his hat-trick in the 96th minute of an astonishing semi-final.

It means Davies and his teammates can look forward to a final against Liverpool on June 1 in Madrid, where he will follow in the footsteps of five other Welsh players.

Terry Yorath was the first. The former Wales manager played for Leeds United in their 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in 1975.

He was followed by Joey Jones, who became the first Welsh winner with Liverpool in 1977 after their 3-1 victory against Borussia Monchengladbach. The left-back was left on the bench the next season when Liverpool beat Brugge, 1-0.

Ian Rush became the second Welsh winner of the competition in 1984, when Liverpool beat Roma on penalties. He also played a year later when Liverpool lost 1-0 to Juventus in the final overshadowed by the Heysel Stadium disaster.

Current Wales manager Ryan Giggs was the next Welshman to make a final and became the most decorated when he was part of the treble-winning team that beat Bayern Munich in 1999 and then Chelsea in 2008. Giggs also played for United in their losing finals, against Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

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Gareth Bale became the fifth Welsh player to make a final – and first to score aside from penalties – in their 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid in 2014.

Bale then played in the 2016 victory over Atletico – won on penalties – came off the bench in the 2017 final, won against Juventus, and scored his unforgettable overhead kick last year in the win against Liverpool.

Now, if former Swansea City defender Davies makes it onto the field, he will join those illustrious names and become the sixth Welsh player to savour a final.

It would also mean a Welsh player will have played in the Champions League final for four consecutive seasons and five of the past six.

But the 26-year-old has a battle on his hands to make the starting line-up. In both legs against Ajax, Davies has started on the bench and come on as a late substitute for England left-back Danny Rose – a rivalry for selection that has fluctuated all season.

Rose said Liverpool’s own comeback the previous night against Barcelona had inspired Spurs to their astonishing achievement.

He said: “We saw Liverpool last night. It goes to show it’s not over until it’s over. The gaffer mentioned Liverpool’s display at the hotel before the match – the gaffer doesn’t mind us losing but we have to lose the right way.”

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “The emotion is amazing, thank you to football. My players are heroes – in the last year I was telling everyone this group are heroes.

“In the second half they were amazing. Thank you football – this type of emotion without football is not possible. Thank you to everyone who has believed in us. To describe this in words is difficult.

“We were talking before the game that when you work and when you feel the love, it’s not stress it’s passion of the team. We showed we love the sport and football. Today was amazing. It was a joy to watch this kind of game.

“They are all heroes but (Lucas Moura) was a superhero. From the first to last one – the tough moment to live in the five years before.”

 

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