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Wales fans head home after Euro 2016 fairytale ended by Portugal

Published 07/07/2016

Wales fans cheer the players and staff following the Euro 2016, semi-final defeat in Lyon
Wales fans cheer the players and staff following the Euro 2016, semi-final defeat in Lyon

Wales fans are starting to make the long journey home after their fairytale Euro 2016 run was ended by Portugal.

Chris Coleman's side surpassed the wildest expectations of their supporters and became one of the surprise packages of the tournament following a dominating 3-1 win against Belgium in Lille in the quarter-finals.

A lot of the talk in the build-up to the semi-final clash against Portugal in Lyon was about the successes of lesser fancied Denmark and Greece who won the tournament in previous years.

A number of Welsh fans spoke of it being the "year of the underdog" as Leicester City overcame 5,000/1 odds to lift the Premier League title.

But a goal each from Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani early in the second half were the difference and drew a close to a thrilling four weeks in France for the Welsh.

Thousands of fans followed the side to all four corners of France over their six games, with millions more tuning in at home to back the side.

Among those packing their bags on Thursday morning was Owen Jones, who is originally from South Wales but now lives in Birmingham.

The 19-year-old said: "It's been a party and the party's going to carry on. The atmosphere last night was immense and we didn't even win ... I don't even know how we could have taken it to another level if we had beaten them.

"How do I feel to be going home? I'm a little bit gutted but just so proud of what the team has achieved.

"No-one was really expecting us to do anything but we got to the semi-final. It's just incredible."

Many Welsh fans had been forced to Channel-hop throughout the tournament as the side made it past the group stage and into following rounds.

After the final group game in Toulouse - which cemented Wales's top place and a last-16 clash against Northern Ireland - fans admitted their pessimism had meant they had ferries, trains and planes to catch.

But they returned en masse for clashes in Paris, Lille and Lyon to cheer Gareth Bale and his team-mates on, with 20,000 said to have made the trip to central-eastern France for the semi-final.

"What a journey, it's been emotional," said Steve Williams, 21, who is from Cardiff but now lives in London.

"I said before the game we could have been totally slaughtered and we'd still be cheering and that's exactly what happened.

"The way this side has just lifted the country and the fans is fantastic. We'll be seeing you all in Russia."

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