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*Welsh dragon firing again

Posted on 13 September 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Simon Davies is counting the days to Cardiff's biggest international night in years as the Welsh revolution gathers pace.

Tipped by many to finally break their qualifying duck - Wales haven't reached the finals of a major tournament since the World Cup in 1958 - Mark Hughes' men turned friendly promise into points with a 2-0 win against Finland in their Euro 2004 Group Nine opener at the weekend.

Italy are next at the magnificent Millennium Stadium and the perfect chance for Wales to underline their new standing.

Simon, a leading player in his country's renaissance, was on target in Helsinki and revealed on his return to Spurs Lodge that the good news was that it wasn't the best of displays, but the points were in the bag.

"It was a great start for us," he said. "We didn't play particularly well in the first half but went in 1-0 up and did well in the second half, upped the tempo a little and it was great to get on the scoresheet again.

"We all know we can play better and that shows how far we've come under Mark Hughes.

"Even though we didn't play that well I never felt we were in trouble and always capable of breaking away and scoring. It proved that well with both goals."

With England having some criticism after their draw against Portugal, Scotland drawing in the Faroe Islands and Ireland losing in Russia, it was pointed out to Simon that Wales came out of the international weekend with their heads held highest.

"It's nice that has changed around," he beamed. "There are big expectations in Wales now, everyone is getting behind the team and the Italy game will be massive now."

As for an explanation to the resurgence, Simon explained: "Everything has fallen together.

"There are experienced players, world-class like Giggs, Hartson's a great player, Craig Bellamy, experience, youth and great respect for the manager. We're all working hard together and that's proving successful.

"There is added pressure but that's great, much better than thinking 'maybe we've got a chance'. If we can just win our home games now we'll have a realistic chance."