Like every other major international tournament before it, Euro 2016 also sprang forward its fair share of surprises. And no other team has surprised experts more than Wales, the nation with the smallest population to ever to reach the semi-finals of the European championships.
At the start of the tournament, people had little to no expectations from the team but game after game this small nation with iron willed players kept on persevering. They leapfrogged England to finish as Group B champions and then saw off Northern Ireland 1-0 in the Round of 16. Then came their biggest challenge as they toppled favourite Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-finals to reach the first ever semi-final in their nation’s history. Their opponent for the night was Cristiano Ronaldo-powered Portugal. With the expectations of an entire nation on their shoulders, the 11 Welsh warriors started off the game quite confidently, with their talisman Gareth Bale looking to run riot over a Pepe less Portugese defense. The first half was slow with neither side showing any attacking intent as they went into half time with a 0-0 score.
But in the second half something changed in Portugal. The fire in Cristiano’s eyes suddenly burned brighter than it had the whole tournament. Like a predator he suddenly struck burying the ball in the Welsh net with his head. Nani then doubled Portugal’s lead which sent shockwaves in the Welsh defense. From then on, the urgency was obvious as they tried to find a way back but it was not to be. It was time for the fairytale to end and football fans were jerked back into reality. The Cinderella story had ended; Wales were out of the tournament. But the players will leave with their heads held high, showing the world what Wales as a nation was really capable of. Goodbye warriors, till next time.