Michael Sheen on his rousing rallying cry for Wales that went viral
If you’ve been sleeping under a rock, living in a cave or enjoy giving the internet a swerve, you couldn’t have failed to have encountered the moment a proud Welshman thrilled audiences on a global stage.
When Michael Sheen was asked on sports TV quiz show A League Of Their Own to create a pep talk for Robert Page’s Wales ahead of their World Cup clash with England, Sheen produced what could only be described as one of the most rousing, stirring, spine-tingling rallying cries in the history of passionate oratory.
His articulate, erudite and powerful words drew a raucous round of applause from the all-English panel of contestants, including pundits Jamie Redknapp and Micah Richards and comedians Emily Atack and Alex Brooker, as well as Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
It also prompted host Romesh Ranganathan to proclaim: “Wow. I have never felt more Welsh!”
This, however, was only the beginning. When the clip was posted on Twitter, it quickly went viral.
High profile names from the world of sport such as multi gold-winning athlete Michael Johnson, Gary Lineker, Dan Walker and Wales star Aaron Ramsey praised its stunning motivational qualities.
Many said he should immediately be installed as the new leader of the Labour Party and the president of an independent Wales.
When Wales boss Robert Page gave a press conference earlier this week he was asked about the speech and revealed the team has shared the speech on their WhatsApp group and implored the manager to invite the actor to accompany the Wales squad to the World Cup in Qatar.
It transpired that the Wales national men’s side weren’t the only squad sharing the speech, it emerged the men’s and women’s Wales national walking football teams used the words to motivate them in a Home Nations tournament last weekend – which they won.
As for Michael Sheen himself, he’s kept his counsel no doubt thrilled that his words have had such a far-reaching impact and global connection.
Amongst the questions posed about the Welshman’s appearance on A League Of Their Own key is whether the speech was scripted. Incredibly it transpires it wasn’t.
He says that he was aware that he would be asked ‘to do something’, but everyone on the show was taken aback by what he actually delivered.
“I was given a heads up beforehand that I’d be asked to do something but they were expecting a little jokey one liner or something like that,” he says.
“I knew I wanted to go for something more than that though knowing it would be filmed properly and get a big push through the programme.
“I had a couple of ideas for lines but then as we started filming it felt like totally the wrong vibe in a studio full of English people and everyone really excited about (England goalkeeper) Aaron Ramsdale being there.”
Nevertheless, he adds his first thoughts were with the Welsh nation.
“I just thought I have to forget about the people here and just think about the people back home who will see it eventually – hopefully. But I knew I’d have to give it extra welly to try and make it work in the studio so I just went for it.
“When it got the reaction from that English audience and panel that it did – knowing they wouldn’t even have got a lot of the references – I figured it might go down well with people at home who were into their football so I was excited for it to come out. ”
However, there was the little matter of the story that has dominated the news headlines breaking on the evening the show was aired.
“The night of it being on was when the Queen passed away and so of course it just didn’t register at all understandably,” he says.
“I was filming in Budapest at the time and just thought ah well never mind perhaps I’ll do it again for something closer to the time.”
What happened next took the actor completely by surprise.
“Then the next day we were travelling home and whilst we were in the air someone must have put the first video of it online and people started sharing it,” he recalls.
“By the time I switched my phone on again it had millions of views already and then it just kept going.
“Incredible to see how it connected with people from all over. Amazing really.”
Michael Sheen’s rallying cry for Wales
Yma o hyd, yma o hyd,
I hear the voices singing,
Speed your journey, bois bach,
One nation, singing with one voice,
A song of hope, a song of courage,
A victory song that floats through the valleys, like a red mist,
Rolls over the mountain tops, like crimson thunder,
A red storm is coming to the gates of Qatar,
It crackles, with the spirit of ’58 and Jimmy Murphy’s boys,
It turns the pages of the history books,
And finds Rob’s page, waiting, still to be written,
What would you write in there, boys?
Dare you write your names on that page?
We haven’t waited 64 years and come half way around the world,
To be troubled by a neighbour from back home,
When the English coming knock on our door,
Let’s give them some sugar, boys, let’s give them some Welsh sugar,
They’ve always said we are too small, we are too slow, we are too weak, too full of fear,
But yma o hyd, you sons of Speed,
And they fall around us,
We are still here.
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