Bale relishing Wales' moment in the spotlight

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Belgium have got some star names like Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne. Given the stage that you’re going to be playing them on, how exciting a prospect is it to come up against a side like that?

It’s an amazing experience. We know Belgium are a very good team with a lot of good players and yes, we’re excited by it. It’s an occasion we want to take in our stride and enjoy.

We came to the finals to play in big games, and though we’ve already got very far in the tournament, we want to go further. We’re going to try to go out and enjoy the experience and play as well as we can, and hopefully that will get us the win.

It was a bit of a nervy start against Northern Ireland. Have you found that there’s a different sort of pressure as Wales have progressed through the tournament?

See how Bale helped Wales to qualifiers win against Belgium

Bale scores in qualifying win against Belgium

Not really. Northern Ireland make it difficult for teams. So we knew they were going to make it difficult for us. It was just one of those games where we knew what it was going to be like. We just had to keep a clean sheet and try to nick a goal. We knew that would be enough.

You’ve had a great start in France personally. Do you find any additional pressure being one of the stars of the tournament?

No, not at all. I’m just trying to enjoy the experience with Wales, with my team-mates, and the country itself. We’re having a hell of a ball here, we’re trying to enjoy every moment of it, and I think that’s showing on the pitch.

Has the atmosphere among the fans become more intense as Wales have progressed?

Our cameras inside the Wales dressing room

Our cameras inside the Wales dressing room

It’s a little bit more nerve-racking, I’m sure, for the fans, but they’re still incredible. It’s been amazing – the chants, the singing, the support we’ve had here and at home – it’s been absolutely unbelievable. And obviously we want to thank everybody for continuing to support us. We hope to keep making them all proud, and we’ll try our best to win on Friday.

And how aware are you of what’s going on back home?

Players get sent videos and we all have a look and see the atmosphere in the fan parks back in Wales, and obviously the renaming of places and stuff. It’s an incredible thing to be a part of. We’re very thankful for everything and hopefully we can keep doing it.

And finally, Gareth, what’s your message to the fans ahead of perhaps the biggest game in Welsh football history?

We want everybody to sing and chant, to enjoy the occasion and get behind the team, to be our 12th man as they always are. We’ll try as a whole nation to win the game and try to enjoy the experience as a nation. Hopefully we can celebrate after …



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