Euro 2016 - 'I just wanted to take it all in' - Ben
13 June 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Ben Davies was frozen in time as the final whistle blew on Wales' historic win against Slovakia on Saturday. Speaking exclusively to us from France, he tells us why...
The defender - playing left of three centre-backs in Wales’ system - certainly played a key role in the 2-1 win in Bordeaux.
With just three minutes on the clock, Slovakia’s danger man Marek Hamski broke through and slid the ball past Danny Ward - only for Ben to race back and clear a certain goal off the line.
Wales drew from there. Gareth Bale opened the scoring and Chris Coleman’s men then recovered from Slovakia’s equaliser and best spell just before the hour to win the game via Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal 10 minutes from time.
It was Wales first match in a major tournament for 58 years - and worth the wait...
What emotions were you going through in the build-up to kick-off?
Ben: “It was all about the pride of being there for the first few minutes. The manager said before the game that we’d all worked so hard to get there that we should all take a look around, take it all in and when that was all out of the way, focus on the game. The anthem was special with all the Welsh fans in Bordeaux.”
On to the next one... pic.twitter.com/zwmI04mAW1— Ben Davies (@Ben_Davies33) June 11, 2016
You needed to be switched on immediately because you made a vital clearance off the line in the third minute - what was going through your mind?
Ben: “Hamsik turned inside and that took out two of our boys, a great run by him. I just thought I couldn’t get to the ball to make a tackle so the best place would be to get in behind (goalkeeper) Danny Ward to the line. Thankfully I got there just in time, read it and slid in to clear it. That settled us down and got us focused. It would have been a bit of a lead balloon to have gone behind inside five minutes.”
The real testament is the character showed by the team to go on and win after being pulled back to 1-1 in the second half...
Ben: “Their equaliser was a kick in the teeth for us because they hadn’t created too much. They were on top after the goal for about 10 minutes but we dug deep and it took real guts to get back on the ball again. The lads up front managed to get us back in front and it was then down to us to see it out.”
What was the feeling on the final whistle?
Ben: “I can’t find the words for it. I don’t think I moved a muscle. I just sat down and wanted to take it all in, to realise what we had just done. Moments like that don’t come along too often and you have to make them count when they do.”
Below: Ben celebrates Gareth Bale's goal
The win puts you in a great position in the group now, especially after England’s draw against Russia...
Ben: “Yes, a very good position. It’s all about getting points on the board early rather than having to struggle in the last match. The pressure is on the other teams now.”
What do you think about the England game on Thursday?
Ben: “Well, it’s going to be a good one! They will be looking to get something against us now. We’ve nothing to fear, we’re in a good position and we’re looking forward to it.”
Look out for more from Ben ahead of the big one - England v Wales on Thursday (2pm UK).