Twenty-two years ago we lost to Leyton Orient. That was bad. Then we had what seemed like twenty dogshit years at the Millennium Stadium, where we seemed to play Finland every other match, and we lost every time to them as well. Then we went to the Euros. But I don’t think we really need to talk about that anymore.
And now there’s Harry Wilson.
Wales were never meant to be good. People had been writing Wales off before the game like they always have, and with good reason, if I’m honest: they hadn’t won a match without Gareth Bale or Aaron Ramsey in the team since 2005. But, last night, Harry Wilson took the game and held it up against the wall, messed up its hair and nicked its lunch money, and said: “I’m gonna have this one.”
He’d seen David Brooks getting kicked up in the air over and over again by Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s Gang of Bastards, and he’d had enough. Watch the way he sets himself for that free kick, watch the way the keeper knows it’s going in before it’s even passed the wall, watch the way it moves in the air, watch how Wilson knows it’s in because when he hits them, they go in. He is fearless. “Actually, Gareth, I’m taking these. Good luck getting them off me now, butt.”
🙌🙌🙌 HARRY WILSON 🏴
— ⚽ Sgorio (@sgorio) October 16, 2018
It hasn’t always been this easy for the boy from Wrexham. He became Wales’ youngest ever player against Belgium in 2013 and took five more years to win his second cap. That’s a long time. But he came through: five years to develop from a young kid running around Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium into someone who batters in free kicks for fun, gives defenders the runaround in the Championship every week for Derby, and who has the balls to give it the big one at the home of the team he hates the most.
That’s still the thing that’s most special to me, that free kick at Old Trafford. It’s one of my favourite goals of all time, not just because of the way it moves and makes Sergio Romero look Very Silly, but because, after scoring what may be the greatest goal of his career, Wilson still has the composure to remember he plays for Liverpool and run up to United fans and give the Five Times gesture that pisses them off more than anything. Fearless.
OH MY GOD. pic.twitter.com/HJSQ19g5up
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) September 25, 2018
The future of Welsh football is not with Gareth Bale and his locks or Aaron Ramsey and his Arsène Wenger hangover; it’s with players like Wilson and his mate David Brooks and Tom Lawrence and Tyler Roberts and Ethan Ampadu and hopefully Ben Woodburn, players who care, players who want to be there. It is young, and it is fearless. We may not win much with our fearless boys, but we’ll have loads of fun on the way.