By Paul Jones
Jordan James described playing for Wales at the age of 19 as “unbelievable” as he reflected on a Riga performance that left his watching grandparents in tears.
Birmingham City midfielder James made his first competitive Wales start on Monday as Rob Page’s side revived Euro 2024 qualifying ambitions with a 2-0 victory over Latvia.
FT: Latvia 0-2 Wales.
No matter how it was done, that’s a huge win.
Seeing Dai Brooks get the second, made my evening.
Jordan James & Ethan Ampadu? The future.
The road to Germany dream lives on…🏴 pic.twitter.com/LhrBY1qthZ
— Jordan (@JordanWebber96) September 11, 2023
James was among the stand-out Wales performers in Riga on a night when his composure in possession belied his tender years.
“The manager wouldn’t have called me up if he didn’t trust me,” James said after winning a fourth cap, just four days after his first start in the goalless friendly draw with South Korea.
“He’s done that with all the youngsters. I was lucky enough the other night to get my chance and I took it.
“Now I’ve played 90 minutes here for Wales. It’s unbelievable, I didn’t think I’d be doing that at 19.
“You can’t describe it, but seeing my grandparents in the stand crying after the game is a really good feeling.
“It’s been an unbelievable camp for me, such a proud camp. But I don’t want to stop here. I want to go on to better things.”
Page was under intense pressure at the Skonto Stadium after Wales had endured a dreadful run of one win in 13 games.
🗣️ “You can’t describe the feeling.”
Jordan James on his performance against Latvia for Wales last night. 💫 pic.twitter.com/1i61KXOj5b
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 12, 2023
But an Aaron Ramsey penalty – the Cardiff’s midfielder’s 100th career goal – and substitute David Brooks’ cool stoppage-time finish eased the pressure and moved Wales within three points of second place in Group D.
James said: “Obviously there’s been speculation and stuff like that but we’re all together.
“He’s an unbelievable manager and all I can say is thank you to him. He’s given me my chance and put me on that map.
“Every time we go out there it’s for the manager. He’s the guy that sets a plan for the game and we try to do what he says.
“All I want to do is perform for him. That’s the same for the whole group because we want to go on to bigger things.”
Jordan James was the most accurate passer, of players to play 45+ mins, during Latvia & Wales' Euro Qualifier this evening.
The Birmingham City man completed 88% of his passes.
— NT Stats (@NTStats) September 11, 2023
Wales’ meet group favourites Croatia at Cardiff in October before finishing with a November double-header away to Armenia and at home to Turkey.
They almost certainly need seven points from the final three games to secure the top-two spot that would book their place at the finals in Germany next summer.
“This is what we needed to do,” said James. “The last camp we made it hard for ourselves.
“But we’ve come out of this one and been very good. Hopefully we can take that on to the next camp.”
Read a related story about Latvia V Wales