Harry Wilson is counting down the days to Wales’ next Euro qualifier and the chance to take centre stage instead of watch from the sidelines.
The Derby County star – on loan duty under Frank Lampard from parent club Liverpool – has six Championship matches remaining with the Rams which will determine whether or not their season is extended with play-offs.
Either way, Wilson is already looking forward to Wales’ second qualifier out in Croatia on June 8.
After becoming Wales’ youngest ever player in 2013, Wilson was in the stands in Bordeaux in June 2016 as his team-mates beat Slovakia 2-1 in their first match of Euro 2016.
When Wales faced Slovakia again in Cardiff last month in the opening match of Euro 2020 qualifying, the 22-year-old from Corwen played 87 minutes as they ground out a 1-0 victory, and he is hungry to be a part of the finals of the competition next summer.
In a wide-ranging interview on S4C’s Mwy o Sgorio, which will be shown on S4C at 10pm on Wednesday and on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer, Wilson speaks about his knack of scoring spectacular free-kicks, his coming of age and how desperate he is to see Liverpool win the Premier League crown.
Wilson, who has scored 14 goals on loan at Derby this season, said: “We got off to the start that we wanted, a home win.
“It was important to get a result, with Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary getting a win as well, so we’ve put ourselves in a good position to attack the two very tough away games that we’ve got.
“We’ll go there full of confidence in ourselves. With the team we’ve got, I think on our day we can beat anybody.
“I was out there as a fan watching during Euro 2016, watching the first game against Slovakia, stood in the stands, singing the anthem and watching the lads get the performance and the result.
“It made me even more desperate to be there on the pitch the next time the Euros came around, instead of being in the stands. To start the qualifying campaign in the starting eleven and to get the win, it’s made me even hungrier to keep that going and make sure we get to the finals.”
At 16 years and 207 days old, Wilson became Wales’ youngest ever full international when he came on as a substitute against Belgium in October 2013. In doing so, he famously earned his grandfather £125,000 after he bet £50 that his grandson would win a cap for his country, when he was 18 months old. However, despite subsequent call-ups, he had to wait until January 2018 to win his second international cap, against China.
He added: “I was very young when I made my debut. I was only 16 and it was a bit of a shock that I was involved, but there were a lot of injuries. We went out to Belgium and they’d already qualified so there was a bit of a party atmosphere going on with 60-odd thousand Belgian supporters in the stadium. With 5-10 minutes to go, Coleman said ‘get ready, you’re going on’, so it was a surreal moment for me. I don’t remember much of it because it was a mixture of nerves and excitement.
“There was a big gap between that and my second cap but I did a lot of growing up in that time. I went out on loan, I had an injury which kept me out for a few months and I captained Liverpool under 23s.
“When I wasn’t in the Wales first team, I was always with the under 19s and under 21s and Geraint Williams and Rob Page were always big on keeping the pathway open for us younger lads to make our way up to the first team. With the old manager and the new manager with the first team now, they’ve shown that they’re not afraid of giving young players a chance if you’re ready and you’re good enough.
“The last game is the perfect example, seeing Dan James get his first start and first goal, I was made up for him and to be on the pitch when he did it was great.”
Wilson has caught the eye for Lampard’s promotion-chasers this season, taking his tally up in all competitions to 14 goals after a brace against Brentford last Saturday. However, it’s his habit of scoring spectacular free kicks which has seen him claim the headlines this season.
“I’d like to think there’s a lot more to my game than just free kicks. I feel when people watch the highlights, they only see the free kicks and goals, but I think I’ve improved my game over the course of the season.
“The favourite has to be the one at Old Trafford. Being a Liverpool fan and doing it at Old Trafford was a fantastic feeling for me. There’s also the one I scored for Wales against the Republic of Ireland. To do that in a competitive game for your country, with a young team against a tough opposition, to see that fly in and it turn out be the winner, it was a fantastic feeling.”
To watch the full interview, watch Mwy o Sgorio at 10pm on Wednesday on S4C, or on demand at S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer. Mwy o Sgorio are also giving away a Wales shirt signed by Harry Wilson – visit @sgorio on Twitter and Facebook to enter.