David Brooks’ first Wales goal since beating cancer savoured by team-mates
Harry Wilson revealed how the Wales dressing room serenaded David Brooks with “his song” after the Bournemouth forward scored his first international goal since beating cancer.
Brooks was diagnosed with stage-two Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2021 while on Wales duty.
The 26-year-old announced he was cancer-free in May last year, but it has been a long road back to form and fitness as Brooks’ body took time to recover from the full effects of the disease.
So it was no surprise the entire Wales squad wildly celebrated the stoppage time goal that Brooks scored to seal a 2-0 European Championship qualifying victory over Latvia on Monday.
It was Brooks’ first Wales goal since scoring the winner in a Nations League tie against the Republic of Ireland in November 2020.
“When the news broke that he had his illness we were on camp and it hit us hard,” Wilson said after the Riga success.
“He’s a big part of the group. He’s been my room mate for years and it was tough for us all.
“To see how strong he’s been through it all, how he’s come back and regained his fitness. He’s had setbacks along the way and picked up a few injuries.
“His body was completely shut down for a while and it’s going to happen, but it’s how he’s dealt with those setbacks.
“Now he’s fully fit he showed his quality at the end. At that moment in the game a lot of players would have snatched at that chance, but he was so calm to wait for the keeper to go down and just lifted it over him.”
Wales supporters are used to belting out the ‘Brooks will tear you apart again’ song to the tune of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear You Apart’ in tribute to him.
Wilson said: “The other day when he came on against South Korea the fans must have sang his song for a good 15 to 20 minutes.
“They were singing it again at the end when we went to them to show our appreciation.
“I think he must have done an interview so he was the last one back in the dressing room.
“We had it going as well and I think it shows what a massive member of this group he’s been and how much he’s been missed over the couple of years he’s been out of the squad.”
Back in the mix
Wales’s win – only their second in 14 games – has put them back in the mix for a top-two spot and automatic qualification while easing the pressure on boss Rob Page.
They have drawn level with Armenia on seven points and trail Croatia and Turkey by three.
Next month’s visit from group favourites Croatia will be followed by a November double-header away to Armenia and at home to Turkey.
Wilson said: “We’ve done well at home in the past against big teams when we’ve got the ‘Red Wall’ behind us. We’ll be looking to do that again.
“We know Armenia away is going to be tough, hostile and the pitch might not be great, but you’ve got to deal with that when you go to these places.
“We feel it’s back in our hands now and we have to make sure we put on performances like we have done before.
“We were all disappointed with how the summer camp went, not just the results (defeats to Armenia and Turkey) but the performances as well.
“We couldn’t wait to get back on camp and put right what went wrong in the summer. We put a bit of pressure on ourselves but we never do it the easy way.”
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