Chris Gunter

Chris Gunter, Wales v England: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Pic: Getty Images.

The Future For Wales Is Bright . . . But It Won’t Include Me, Says Departing Legend Chris Gunter

By Gareth James

Chris Gunter insists the future is still bright for Welsh international football – despite his decision to further underline how last year’s World Cup was the end of an era.

Gunter became the third Wales player in recent weeks to announce his retirement from the international game following the departures of record goalscorer Gareth Bale and midfielder Joe Allen.

The trio’s departure means the end of an era and the withdrawal of huge combined experience for manager Rob Page ahead of Wales’ Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, which starts later this month.

Gunter was Wales’ second most capped men’s player, who won 109 caps for his country, a figure surpassed only in the men’s game by Gareth Bale’s total of 111 appearances.

But the AFC Wimbledon defender believes the squad is still in good hands as they begin another qualification campaign.

“We’re in a great place with this staff and squad, with loads to look forward to,” said Gunter.

“I’ve had the privilege of representing our great country for 15 years, and it’s given me some of the best times of my career and my life,” Gunter, 33, added in a statement on his personal Twitter account.

“To all of the managers I’ve played under, and all of the staff who have helped me in many different ways, I have so much appreciation for you and need to say a huge thank you.

“I’ve always said when you can share moments with not just team mates but friends it’s even more special, and I’ve been so lucky to share the dressing room with people who are real mates for life.

“From a young kid growing up in Wales the dream was to always play and wear that red shirt. What not even I dreamt of was the memories and experiences it has given me and my family.

“Which has been made possible by you lot, the fans. I’ve tried to tell you many times how much you’ve helped, although it’s hard to find the words to articulate.

“So I’ll just say the biggest thank you, and see you soon.

Gunter made his Wales debut in 2007 and was a cornerstone of the side that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 – the nation’s first major tournament for 58 years.

“We’re glad you crossed that ball,” said a tweet from the official Wales account – a reference to then-manager Chris Coleman telling Gunter not to do so just moments before he set up Sam Vokes for the third goal against Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarter-final.

Wales were leading 2-1 deep into the game and Coleman, caught on camera, was urging Gunter to take up time in the corner.

“Diolch am popeth (thanks for everything) @Chrisgunter16”, the tweet added.

Gunter was also part of the squads that qualified for Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup, although he was a back-up player in those tournaments.

He became the first Wales men’s player to win 100 caps in March 2021.

Gunter played for Cardiff, Tottenham, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Charlton before joining AFC Wimbledon last summer.

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