County Celtic Connection - Part 3

18th December, 2015 •
Posted In: Other
Written By: Graeme Macleod •
Comments: 0 Comments

CALUM Antell is the third and final part of the County Celtic Connection who are looking forward to their country's efforts at Euro 2016 this summer.

With former Northern Ireland international Sean Webb and Conor Gethins from the Republic of Ireland in the Nairn squad, there is a strong interest in the tournament with Antell's Wales qualifying for a European Championships for the first time.

Wales have been drawn in Group B and will start their campaign against Slovakia in Bordeaux on June 11th before moving on to Lens and a game against England on June 16th. They round off their group stages programme against Russia in Toulouse on June 20th.

Antell said: "Wales have not been at a major tournament for years, a bit like Northern Ireland. It is only really the Republic of Ireland and England who have been at one recently, so there will be a lot of excitement in Wales, particularly having drawn England."

"Wales will go into it not fearing anything because there will be no pressure on them. It will be up to England and the other teams to prove a point because Wales were bottom seeds. Drawing England sets the whole thing up nicely and I do not think anyone in Wales would have wanted anyone else."

"I think we have a great chance of getting through. Russia and Slovakia are both great teams but I think Wales should be aiming for second place in the group because there is no reason why we cannot beat those two teams. England will undoubtedly be favourites and they did well in qualifying but they do not have a great record in major tournaments lately, so Wales have nothing to fear and it will be an interesting group."

Antell believes that Wales will take momentum into the campaign off the back of a successful qualifying programme.

He stated: "The rugby is bigger than the football in Wales but everyone will be out in force for this one. Wales have filled the stadium during the qualifying campaign, which has not happened for a long time. I remember going to games when I was younger and the stadiums being nowhere near full. The only time I saw it full was for a game against England when there were 86,000 people at the Millennium Stadium."

"With the players they have now and the way they are playing, the football has taken over again and that can only be a good thing for Welsh football."

The goalkeeper expects many of his compatriots to make the trip to France and although he will not be among them, he plans to return to his home country to take in the tournament among friends and family.

He said: "Everyone will be looking forward to it I am sure and I would not be surprised if Wales took a lot of fans over to France. It is not too far for people to travel, so people will even take campervans!"

"We have not qualified for a while, so everyone is excited for it to start and hopefully the top players stay fit for the rest of the season, so we can take a full team over. If the first choice starting eleven plays the way they have through the qualifiers, we will be in with a great chance."

"I would like to go but prices will be through the roof now having drawn England. I will head back to Wales and watch the games there and I am looking forward to it - the atmosphere will be great."

Antell played alongside and against a handful of players in the Wales squad earlier in his career.

He revealed: "I played with Adam Matthews when I was Cardiff. I played against Joe Allan when I was at Swindon and he was at Swansea and I trained with Wayne Hennessey when I was on trial with Wolves, so there are a few of them I have trained with or played against."

"If we can keep our spine with Hennessey, Ashley Williams, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale fit that will give us a chance. We probably have the most Premier League players in the squad we have had for a while whereas in the past, we would only have a few Premier League players and the rest would be from the Championship or League One."

"The spine of the team is all from Premier League level now and then you have the likes of Joe Ledley and Neil Taylor at left back in there as well, so there is a good blend of Premier League and high-level Championship players in the squad, giving us a high-calibre of player to go over with."

The 23-year-old represented his country at youth level earlier in his career.

He said: "I played in the under-19s and I have been on standby for the under-21s a few times but never received the call."

"It was great to be involved in the under-19s and around that kind of setup because you never think you will get the chance to play for your country at any level. It is great that people take notice of you because I was not expecting it and it was good for my family as well."

"We were based at Everton's Finchfarm training ground for a training camp and we played a few warm-up games against Everton's youth teams and then we had a friendly against Malta. It was a good week that I really enjoyed."

Comments

No Comments.

Post a Comment


CAPTCHA Image Reload Image