According to manager Rob Page, Wales’ 1-1 tie in Croatia in the dying moments has shown that they can have a successful future without their retiring former captain Gareth Bale.
Nathan Broadhead of Ipswich Town scored on his debut for Wales in the third minute of stoppage time, holding a Croatian team that had previously won 34 and drawn once in home European qualifiers.
With 41 goals, Bale, 33, leads all male goal scorers for Wales, although he retired in January.
There will be life after Gareth, Page assured.
“The admirers of Wales will always remember Gareth’s individual triumphs.
“But was he still able to press for 95 minutes at the end of his life? Most likely not; I know I couldn’t when I was playing at his age.
“With a half-hour left, we have the chance to bring on some young, spirited guys and still try to win the game.
Wes Burns, Sorba Thomas, and Tom Bradshaw continued to run, giving us the chance to clean up the top of the structure.
Page noted that, given the circumstances, Wales’ point in their opening Euro 2024 qualifying match felt more significant.
In contrast to Wales, who were without key injured players like Wayne Hennessey, Ben Davies, and Brennan Johnson as well as the retired Bale and Joe Allen, Croatia has a stellar home record and has never lost in a European Championship qualifier at home since playing their first game in 1994.
It feels like a victory, Page remarked. “It feels like a triumph when you get an equalizer late in the game as we did. I believe the guys earned it for the effort they made; they put in a good shift.
“We anticipated suffering without the ball, and our worst fears were realized.
They are a really strong team, so we had to maintain our composure. We’d develop opportunities as the game progressed, I was confident.
“We believed DJ’s [Daniel James] opportunity might be the winning one, but Nathan Broadhead appeared at the very last second, got his opportunity, and nailed it.”
Page was also happy for Broadhead, who is now playing regularly for the first team after spending a couple of years on the periphery at Everton.
I’m extremely happy for him, Page continued. “He won’t appreciate this, but the game was so emotional that he broke down in tears in front of the crowd. To him, it is extremely important.
“In the Under-21s, Nathan and I collaborated. I am familiar with Broady and have followed his growth. He has now earned the right to be a member of the squad.
Before this camp, I was well aware of Broady, and we had been eager to incorporate him.
24 year old Broadhurst was ecstatic to have had such a significant impact.
“I must admit that I felt a little overwhelmed. I became quite emotional “explained him.
“I’ve been anticipating this day for a very long time. We required a purpose. Although we came here to win the game, picking up a point is still beneficial. We are fictional.”