Gareth Bale & co may have been dominating the hearts and minds of Welsh sports fans with their efforts in Qatar, but Cardiff City will grab the limelight on Wednesday night when the club hosts a special tribute match to honour one of their all-time greats. Peter Whittingham was at the heart of everything that was good about the Bluebirds for more than a decade, a period during which the club reached a League Cup final, a Play-off Final, an FA Cup Final and, finally, the promised land of the Premier League. His achievements and statistics – 96 goals in 457 games – will stand the test of time, especially in the ultra-professional modern era.
Siwan Lillicrap has announced her retirement from international rugby. The 51-times-capped back five player has been Wales Women squad captain since November 2019 and played a major role in the transition to professionalism last year. She was one of the first 12 players to receive a full-time contract but has opted to leave Test rugby.
Gareth Bale insists he wants to carry on playing for his country but the real question now is whether his country needs him. As Wales’ World Cup journey came to an end, Bale and the rest of the squad stood and applauded their fans, packed into a small section behind the goal at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, a venue that holds few memories, only promises of a bright, shiny space-age future. But what future for this Wales team, their foot soldiers and their decorated generals, following a 3-0 defeat to England and the end of an underwhelming campaign in Qatar.
You know that sporting cliché, “We need a miracle.” Well, Wales need two. To stay in the World Cup, to make it out of the group stages and into the excitement of the knockout round of 16 in Qatar, Wales need two things to happen.
Ieuan Evans has vowed to modernise the Welsh Rugby Union, but without neglecting the community game after being appointed chair of the WRU. The decorated former Wales and British & Irish Lions wing, who also chairs the Lions Board, takes over from Rob Butcher who served two-years at the helm but stood down after the WRU’s recent 2022 Annual General Meeting. Evans follows inaugural chair Vernon Pugh QC, Glanmor Griffiths, David Pickering, Gareth Davies and Butcher to become the WRU’s sixth chair since 1993.
Dean Saunders has urged Wales manager Robert Page to ignore demands to axe Aaron Ramsey for the do-or-die World Cup clash against England. Wales midfielder Ramsey – so often the beating heart of Welsh triumphs over the years – has been a shadow of himself at the tournament so far. That has led to siren calls for him to be dumped by Page for the final group stage game, with either Joe Morrell, Jonny Williams, Dylan Levitt or Matthew Smith called in to replace him.
Gareth Bale believes in miracles and why shouldn’t he? This is a footballer who was once considered a cursed left back with Tottenham Hotspur who went on to win five Champions League titles as lethal attacker with Real Madrid. From a defender who always seemed to lose with Spurs, to a striker who won everything with the biggest club in the world.
Say it ain’t so, Joe. That phrase passed into sporting immortality when an American reporter allegedly asked baseball star ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson about his admission that he’d fixed the 1919 World Series. (He hadn’t). It was also asked – in a roundabout way – by reporters to Joe Allen on Sunday when he was quizzed on whether making the World Cup knockout stages in Qatar was now a lost cause.
Joe Allen insists Wales' final World Cup group clash against is not "mission impossible" and has also defended Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey against their critics. Wales will go into Tuesday’s game against their oldest enemy requiring two small miracles to occur simultaneously. Firstly, they have to beat England for the first time since 1984 and prevent their biggest rivals from gaining a seventh successive victory.
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