Gemma Grainger Signs New Contract With Football Assosiastion of Wales. Pic: Getty Images.

Gemma Grainger Signs New Contract With Football Assosiastion of Wales. Pic: Getty Images.

Wales To Play Portugal In April As New Era Starts After Helen Ward Decision

By David Williams

Gemma Grainger’s Wales team will face Portugal in a friendly on Tuesday 11 April (KO 17:30) in Guimarães.

Portugal, who are ranked 22nd in the world rankings, booked their place in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup last month after beating Cameroon in the intercontinental play-off final.

The fixture will take place at Estádio D. Afonso Henriques and will be the first meeting between the two sides since 2018, when they played out a goalless draw in a friendly in Almada.

The game comes five days after Wales’ fixture against Northern Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The news of the fixture comes just days after Wales’ record scorer Helen Ward announced her retirement from international football and said she will hang up her boots at club level at the end of this season.

The 36-year-old Watford skipper has netted 44 goals in 105 Wales appearances, having made her debut in 2008.

She is one of nine centurions along with Jess Fishlock, Lauren Dykes, Sophie Ingle, Natasha Harding, Angharad James, Gareth Bale, Chris Gunter and Wayne Hennessey.

Ward rejoined the Hornets, her first club, in 2017 following the birth of her second child, after spells with Arsenal, Chelsea and Reading.

In a message on social media, the forward said: “The pride I feel every time I hear those words; ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ and the sense of belonging will never, ever leave me.

“The Best Ride Of My Life”

“Playing for Wales became my why. It’s the reason I kept going and wanting to improve; the reason I came back after having my children, why I didn’t let Covid be the end and why I realise that it’s not where you are born that counts, but where you feel like you belong and I’ve never felt more at home than when I’m with my team, in Wales.

“It breaks my heart that I didn’t make it to a major tournament with this team, that I wasn’t at my peak when so many of team-mates were and are.

“But I know they will make it soon and they will shine on the biggest stage of all and I cannot wait to be their best cheerleader when that happens.

“It’s not always been easy, but it’s been the best ride of my life.”

Ward represented England at under-23 level before playing for Wales, qualifying through her grandmother. In another statement that appeared on Watford’s official website, Ward said that since making her debut in 2001 aged 15, she has “been through every emotion possible”.

She added: “To the players, staff and wonderful supporters of Arsenal, Chelsea, Reading and, of course, my Watford; I may never have technically been a ‘professional’ footballer, but please know I always tried to behave as any professional would and represent your clubs with pride, passion and respect and I always, always gave my all.

“To end my career here, at Watford, where it all began all those years ago feels like a perfect symmetry. Thank you for helping me love the game and for the endless support and love for me and my family. Watford is forever in my blood and in my heart.”

Ward concluded the statement with: “Football, you’ve been a blast.”

Read more about Wales women’s football

Spanish Steps Have Been Forwards, Says Wales Boss Gemma Grainger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.