Belfast Telegraph

Wales v Belgium: Dragons drawing inspiration from World Cup '58 heroes - Chris Coleman

By Staff Reporter

Chris Coleman has no intention of playing the occasion down as he prepares his side for what he calls Wales' biggest game for 58 years.

Wales meet Belgium in Lille tonight with a Euro 2016 semi-final place at stake. Coleman's men start as underdogs against opponents ranked second in the world, but the manager said his squad have taken belief from talking to a member of the 1958 side which reached the quarter-final of the World Cup.

"We had a week training in Portugal before we came out and one of the players from the '58 team came out and had a chat with the boys," said Coleman.

"We were talking about the 1958 experience they had. In those days, when players arrived back off the train, they were asked whether they'd been on holiday because nobody knew they'd been at the World Cup.

"We're sure it meant the same to them as to us now, but we have to say we don't need to ham this game up.

"We know what's at stake, we know we've earned it and it's a great place to be. Since the 1958 quarter-final, we have to put this down as the biggest game our country's been involved in."

Coleman insists Wales - who beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in the last 16 - will embrace an occasion which will be like a home game for Belgium.

The French city of Lille is just a few miles from the Belgian border and Wales fans will be heavily outnumbered,but Coleman promised it is a game that his players are looking forward to, and do not see as their final stop.

"I'm going to enjoy and savour it, but we'll enjoy it when we perform and put the work in, said Coleman.

Captain Ashley Williams is fit to play after damaging his shoulder against Northern Ireland.

"The medical team have done a fantastic job. When you have a strong dressing room you need a strong character to lead it, and Ash is that," added Coleman.

Belgium have problems at the back with Thomas Vermaelen suspended and Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen is out after tearing ankle ligaments in training.

Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots confirmed the defender will miss the rest of Euro 2016, with the injury expected to keep the defender out for six weeks.

Belfast Telegraph