Ledley dancing and Robson-Kanu turning – when Wales dared to dream at Euro 2016

Wales ended a 58-year wait to play at a major tournament when qualifying for Euro 2016 in France.

Chris Coleman’s Dragons made up for lost time by reaching the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners Portugal.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on a summer to remember for every Wales fan.

Dare to dream

Russia v Wales – UEFA Euro 2016 – Group B – Stadium Municipal
Manager Chris Coleman celebrates after Wales’ 3-0 victory over Russia at Euro 2016 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Much had been made about Wales’ so-called ‘Golden Generation’ featuring Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and others.

But Wales boss Chris Coleman embraced the noise around his talented squad, and his ebullient mood and optimism caught the national mood.

“Don’t be afraid to have dreams,” the likeable Coleman said moments after the epic quarter-final victory over Belgium.

“Everybody fails. Don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve had more failures than successes, but I’m not afraid to fail.”

Gareth the Great

Wales v Northern Ireland – UEFA Euro 2016 – Round of 16 – Parc des Princes
Gareth Bale celebrated with daughter Alba Violet on the pitch after the round of 16 victory against Northern Ireland in Paris (Joe Giddens/PA)

Gareth Bale almost single-handedly dragged Wales to the finals, from his late face-saving free-kick in Andorra to his classy winner against Belgium.

When Bale got to France his role was no less influential as he became the first player to score in all three group games at the Euros since Milan Baros and Ruud Van Nistelrooy in 2004.

Bale fired home free-kicks against Slovakia and England and produced a classy finish with the outside of his foot in the 3-0 win over Russia.

The Real Madrid forward was so relaxed in the knockout stages that he had a kickabout with daughter Alba Violet after the round of 16 victory against Northern Ireland in Paris.

The Ledley Shuffle

Wales v Belgium – UEFA Euro 2016 – Quarter Final – Stade Pierre Mauroy
Joe Ledley dances in celebration after the Euro 2016 quarter-final victory against Belgium in Lille (Joe Giddens/PA)

Social media went into meltdown as Joe Ledley showed he had the dance moves as well as the ball skills.

The central midfielder threw some on-pitch shapes after the group win over Russia and took it to another level in the dressing room following the round of 16 win against Northern Ireland.

Ledley’s dance on a table was leaked online and the fans lapped up every move.

Hal Robson-Cruyff

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Your country's most iconic EURO goal is…

⚽️ #TBT to Hal Robson-Kanu 🆚 Belgium!#EURO2020 | @Cymru | @RobsonKanupic.twitter.com/qqQN9Ukeij

— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) February 13, 2020

Did Johan Cruyff do it better? In one exquisite turn, Hal Robson-Kanu bamboozled Jason Denayer, Thomas Meunier and Marouane Fellaini to such an extent that it was suggested the Belgian trio should have paid to get back into Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Robson-Kanu’s ‘Cruyff turn’ left the Belgian defence for dead, and his cool left-footed finish gave goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois no chance and Wales a 2-1 lead.

Wales went on to beat Belgium, ranked second in the world, 3-1 to reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time.

The Red Wall

Portugal v Wales – UEFA Euro 2016 – Semi-Final – Stade de Lyon
Wales fans turned out in their thousands at Euro 2016 in France (Mike Egerton/PA)

Wales, with a population of under three million, became the smallest nation to reach the semi-finals of the European Championship.

It was estimated that 30,000-plus Wales supporters were in France and fan zones were packed home for games.

Bale said the squad referred to their supporters as ‘The Red Wall’.

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