'Can you imagine if we had won it?' - Joe Ledley reflects on lifelong memories of playing for Wales at Euro 2016

  • Watch Beth Fisher's interview with Joe Ledley

On the 7th May 2016, Joe Ledley fractured his left leg. His place in the 23 man squad for Euro 2016 was seriously in doubt.

In the 69th minute of Wales' first game at a major tournament for 58 years, Joe Ledley came on as a substitute in a 2-1 victory over Slovakia in Bordeaux.

His remarkable race back to fitness allowed him to play a central part in a remarkable tournament for Wales, where they got to a semi final, only to lose to Portugal.

Joe and Beth sat down together in a cinema ahead of Euro 2020 Credit: ITV Wales

"We didn't set any goals", Joe told ITV Cymru Wales' sports reporter Beth Fisher. "It was more or less just go out there and enjoy it.

"We believed in the team, we knew we had two amazing players in [Gareth] Bale and [Aaron] Ramsey".

Joe and Beth sat down together in a cinema ahead of Euro 2020 to look back on memories of the last tournament Wales were involved in five years ago.

Credit: PA Images

At Euro 2016, Wales also had England in their group. England had played out a 1-1 draw with Russia in their first game, while Wales had three points in the bag after victory over Slovakia.

It was agony for Wales in stoppage time at the end of the game, however, as Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge scored the winner.

"We didn't want England in our group", Joe remembers, "we didn't want the speculation in the media and all the hype and we just wanted to get on with our jobs".

"[Losing] was devastating. Especially so late in the game, we'd put so much effort into that performance".

But Wales still had more than a chance of making through to the knockouts, as they took on Russia in the final group match.

"It was a must win game. We were all just thinking we have to win this game", Joe says.

Goals from Ramsey, Taylor and Bale saw Wales to a stunning 3-0 victory, and into the round of 16 they went.

A narrow and tense 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland then took Wales to the semi final of Euro 2016, coming up against a star-studded Belgium side who took the lead inside 15 minutes.

But Ashley Williams put Wales right back in the contest, and the momentum began to shift in Wales' favour.

"After that goal, we put in some performance", Joe Ledley told Beth Fisher.

"We used to have GPSs and I think this was the fastest Ashley has ever run!"

Hal Robson-Kanu then scored one of the goals of the tournament, turning the Belgium defence inside-out with a Cruyff turn.

"What a moment for him as well", Joe says, "because he'll go down as a legend for that goal. It will be a moment of his life he'll remember forever.

Sam Vokes then cemented Wales' place in the semi-finals with a headed finish, giving Welsh football its most famous victory.

Credit: PA Images

Going into the semi-final, Joe told Beth he felt excitement and nerves about the opportunity to make history, but it wasn't to be as Wales lost to Portugal.

"It was amazing, we went so far. It's great to be associated with this group of players and staff and the fans.

"To go one step short was devastating was when you look back, what an achievement it was.

"It was just such a great bond we had and even though we knew it was the end the fans were all still cheering and singing. You'd think we'd won the game!"

Reflecting on the pictures of the greeting the Wales players got on their return to Wales at the end of the tournament, Joe said: "It just makes you think, can you imagine if we'd won it?"

"I'll have the memories of that campaign for the rest of my life".

There will be extensive coverage of the Euros on ITV Cymru Wales

Wales v Switzerland kicks off at 2pm on Saturday 12th June and there will be extensive coverage by ITV Cymru Wales online and on TV.

There will also be a special Euros preview programme on ITV Cymru Wales throughout June.