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Ben so close to dreamland

Posted on 6 September 2015  - 09:24

Ben Davies is three points away from making history with Wales.

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The defender is part of a Welsh team on the brink of qualifying for the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1958.

A hard-fought victory against Cyprus on Thursday night maintained their three-point lead from Belgium at the top of Group B as they bid to reach Euro 2016.

It means victory against Israel today (Sunday, September 6) - or in any of their final three games with a trip to Bosnia (October 10) and minnows Andorra at home (October 13) to follow - will secure a place in the finals in France next summer.

The celebrations after the 1-0 win in Nicosia said it all and Ben spoke to us exclusively after his return to Wales on Friday.

First of all, tell us about Cyprus, can you describe the feeling when the final whistle went?
Ben: "It was a huge feeling of joy. It was a tough game in tough conditions and we had to grind out a result. The performance wasn't great but to win that way is a nice feeling."

Was it even more special for you because you had to sit out the win against Belgium in June because of your shoulder injury?
Ben: "It was tough to miss the Belgium game but when the boys got a result like they did it put us in an amazing position for the Cyprus game. To get a result in that game as well has put us in a great position in the group."

A lot of the spotlight is on Gareth Bale (who scored his sixth goal in qualifying) but what about your defence? Five clean sheets is best in qualifying.
Ben: "It's something to be proud of as a defensive unit, we work hard at the back to keep a clean sheet, and we know that we've got players like Gareth who can get us goals. We do the gritty work that sometimes doesn't get noticed but in the camp we know how important it is and we are very happy."

All eyes are on the Israel game now - Spurs and Wales legend Cliff Jones said your group is on the brink of something special - how do you and the players feel?
Ben: "We do feel that we are on the brink and it's a massive opportunity. One more win and we are there which is a strange feeling for Welsh football but an exciting one at the same time!"

What is the attitude going into the game against Israel?
Ben: "We are aware of the rewards if we win, but we know it's in our hands and if we do our jobs properly then we are there, which is the dream for us."

Below: Ben and the Wales team line-up in Cyprus

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What are you expecting from Israel?
Ben: "We know they are a good side, but we've beaten them once and are determined to go and do the same again. They are still in with a chance in the group so they'll be looking to get something out of the game as well."

The home game against Andorra is there in the background but how much do you want to get it done and qualify for the finals with a win on Sunday?
Ben: "It would be perfect if we could get it done on Sunday. We can then relax for the next month knowing we have already qualified!"

What would it mean to get there?
Ben: "It would be a dream. Everyone is aware how long it's been since we reached a tournament so to go and do it would be an honour and such a good feeling."