Wales on the brink of something special - Cliff
06 September 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
There won’t be a prouder Welshman around than Cliff Jones if Wales break a 58-year duck to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals today (Sunday, September 6).
The class of 2015 need a victory against Israel in Cardiff (5pm) - or one win from their three remaining fixtures - to qualify for next summer’s finals in France.
If they manage it against Israel today, it will be Wales’ first major finals since reaching the World Cup Finals in Sweden in 1958.
That famous side - including Cliff, fellow Spurs Terry Medwin and Mel Hopkins and all-time Welsh greats John Charles and Ivor Allchurch - went on to reach the quarter-finals, where they were narrowly beaten by Pele’s Brazil.
Below: Wales' team of 1958 before their play-off against Israel - Cliff is front row, far right with Spurs team-mates Terry Medwin, front row, far left and Mel Hopkins, back row, third from right
By sheer chance, Wales had to beat Israel over a two-legged qualifier back in February, 1958, to reach the Sweden finals and they obliged with 2-0 wins home and away.
“It’s amazing really, a huge coincidence,” said Cliff. “We played in Cardiff as well! Now it’s come down to this as well, beat Israel and we’re in a major tournament again. That was almost 60 years ago!
“It was a long time ago, but I remember it was a great feeling. We knew we’d done something a bit special. Sadly, quite a few of those players aren’t around any longer. I’m sure they will be looking down shouting ‘come on lads!’
“Now this team is on the verge of doing something great again. In Wales, rugby is the number one game, no doubt about it. But football is right up there at the moment. For the players, that shows they have done something special and they now have to go to Cardiff and finish it off.
“This team will then no longer have to live with the fact that no Wales team has qualified for a major tournament since 1958. They will do that and they’ve earned it. They deserve it and they have to enjoy the moment.
“They can go to the finals with high hopes as well. They have a team and a team spirit that will take a lot of beating. The longer they play together, the more belief they will have. They are a force now, and it’s great to see. I can’t speak highly enough of what they have done.”