Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale has hailed his side’s 2-0 loss to Bosnia & Herzegovina as the “best defeat” of his life after Wales qualified for their first major international tournament since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

 

A 2-1 defeat for Israel against Cyprus in the same group meant that Wales clinched one of the two automatic Euro 2016 qualification berths alongside Belgium. Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus and Israel will battle it out for the third place and a spot in the play-off round on Tuesday.

The 2-0 loss was Wales’ first defeat in their entire Euro 2016 qualification run. The final whistle witnessed euphoric scenes in Zenica as the Welsh celebrated their much awaited return to Europe’s premier international football competition.

“Best defeat of my life” – Gareth Bale

Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale has been the undisputed focal point of Wales’ successful qualification campaign.

Bale has scored six times in the qualifiers, which is double of what the rest of his teammates have managed to score put together.

Speaking after the match to the media, a euphoric Bale said (via ESPNFC), “This is the best defeat of my life.”

“It was a difficult game, but we have done it and everyone is very happy,” he added.

“This is right up there in my career. It was a dream from when I was a small child to play in a major tournament, but it doesn’t stop here. We have business to do in France.

“But we can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the occasion. We are like brothers on the pitch.

“If we lose the ball we fight for it back. We can now test ourselves against the best.”

Coleman hails Welsh resolve

Wales manager Chris Coleman echoed Gareth Bale’s sentiments when he spoke to the media after Wales qualified for the Euro 2016 finals to be held in France next year.

“I’ve never been so happy to lose 2-0,” said Coleman.

“I don’t think we deserved to lose the game as Bosnia were getting frustrated and we didn’t make the most of the good situations we got into.

“But when I was walking off I saw our supporters were singing and our secretary, Mark Evans, whispered in my ear that Israel had lost.

“So I was all smiles and I can’t honestly describe how I am feeling, it probably won’t sink in for a few days.

“But it is an absolute dream. We’ve waited so long for this and, for me not, just as a manager or as a player.

“I saw it so many times as a kid as well. We’ve missed out so many times, so to finally do it is an unbelievable feeling.”

Asked about Bale’s contribution to Wales’ successful qualification campaign, Coleman remarked, “The best players should be playing on the biggest stage and he is going to have that chance now.”

“He’s scored some incredible goals to make it possible but it’s not just his ability, it’s his attitude and his mentality towards playing for Wales.”