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Rob Page insists he can take Wales forward after penalty heartbreak

27 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Wales head coach Rob Page. Photo Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Phil Blanche, PA

Rob Page insisted he will take Wales forward after their Euro 2024 dream was ended by penalty shoot-out heartbreak.

Daniel James missed the decisive spot-kick as Wales lost 5-4 on penalties to Poland after a goalless draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney put Page’s position in the spotlight in October by saying the manager’s position would be reviewed if the Dragons did not qualify for Euro 2024 automatically.

Page and Mooney held clear the air talks after those comments – the 49-year-old remaining in post after Wales had to settle for a play-off place that ultimately ended in failure.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Dave Adams, the technical director,” said boss Page.

“We’ve had our issues in the past, haven’t we? It’s been well documented. But everything’s fine. Everything’s great. I think they appreciate it.

“The board, the chief exec, the president, I think they see the journey we’re on and what we’re trying to do.

“In 12 months, from retirement of senior players to introducing younger players and being one kick away from qualification. I think they see the work we’re doing and the supporters do too.”

Wales had never been involved in a penalty shoot-out in their history and it was left to James, with the 10th spot-kick, to feel the pain of failing to convert as Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny pushed out his effort.

Wales manager Rob Page during the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying play-off final at the Cardiff City Stadium. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Page told S4C: “It is a cruel game and that is what I have said to the players. One kick away from qualifying and it hurts.

“I thought we were the better team. I’ve just said to the group, ‘look how far we have come – we are that disappointed we have not qualified for a major tournament’.”

Page offered sympathy to James and praised his squad for their efforts throughout the qualifying campaign.

He added: “We will rally round Deej. He had the bravery to take that penalty.

“I’m just so proud of that group and the nation should be proud of them. They have put a shift and some in tonight to try to get us there.

“We will be bigger and stronger for going through this horrible experience. We are going somewhere. There is something good happening with this group.

“They are so disappointed but they are hungry for it. We were nearly there, one kick away. There is a lot more to come.”

Page defended his decision to keep Aaron Ramsey on the bench and not send on his skipper in the closing stages.

Ramsey has not started a game since September because of knee and calf issues, but played 20 minutes for Cardiff in their last game following his latest injury.

“Who could he come on and replace?” said Page.

“We needed two sixes on the park and we weren’t going to take a risk in extra-time.”


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