LILLE: Aaron Ramsey, magnificent in Wales’ historic Euro 2016 quarter-final triumph over Belgium, has said he is “gutted” to be missing Wednesday’s semi-final against Portugal.
Ramsey and defender Ben Davies will both sit out the tie after picking up their second bookings of the tournament in the 3-1 victory in Lille. In Ramsey’s case, the card was issued for a handball agfter he had previously been yellow-carded in stoppage time in the second round win over Northern Ireland.
He said: “It was a sort of natural reaction and I knew straight away it was a yellow. I’m really gutted. But I’m confident in the players we have to step in and get us to the final.”
Ramsey has been a big part of Wales’ success in France and he has been responsible for more goals at Euro 2016 than any other player. The 25-year-old also scored in the 3-0 group game victory against Russia to add to his four assists.
He said: “It (Belgium game) was up there with the best performances of my career, especially on the stage that it was. I wanted to stand up and be counted, so I am delighted I was able to help my team and grab a couple of assists that meant we won quite comfortably in the end.
“Now we have to beat Portugal. I am sure it will sink in before then that I will not be playing. But I will be right behind my team, cheering them on and kicking every ball.I will be right in the mix of it, so hopefully they can do it.”
Davies also misses out against Portugal after picking up an early booking for bringing down Belgium forward Kevin De Bruyne. The Tottenham defender is likely to be replaced by James Collins.
The semi-final sees Gareth Bale coming up against his Real Madrid club-mates Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe. But Bale sought to play down expectations.
He said: “It’s Portugal versus Wales, nothing more. It’s in our hands now, but we can’t afford to look past the semi-final. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and we’ll stick to that.”
Wales’ only previous taste of a major tournament, the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, saw them reach the quarter-final stage before losing 1-0 to Brazil and a teenager called Pele.
But Chris Coleman’s current side eclipsed that achievement by overturning Radja Nainggolan’s thunderous early strike in Lille with goals from skipper Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes.
Bale added: “We’re very proud at what the ’58 team did. They had some amazing players. But we’ve always spoken that this is our time to shine, and we’ve definitely done that.
“It’s going to be an amazing semi-final day. We’ve already made history and hopefully we can make more.”