Sheffield-based players and coaches in World Cup heaven as Wales qualify for Qatar

Sheffield will have a few more representatives in Qatar in November after Wales qualified for their first World Cup finals since 1958.

By Chris Holt
Sunday, 5th June 2022, 7:42 pm

The Welsh, led by former Sheffield United man Rob Page who is still based in the city, beat Ukraine 1-0 in Cardiff to book their place in the competition and spark wild scenes in the Principality.

Blades full-back Rhys Norrington-Davies came off the bench in the latter stages while goakeeper Adam Davies was also among the substitutes. Former United assistant manager Alan Knill is part of Page’s backroom team.

Wales ended their 64-year wait to play at a World Cup by beating Ukraine 1-0 in a pulsating play-off final in Cardiff.

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Rob Page, Head Coach of Wales celebrates after their sides victory which qualifies Wales for the 2022 FIFA World Cup during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Ukraine at Cardiff City Stadium on June 05, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Gareth Bale, so often Wales’ talisman, again produced the decisive moment with his 34th-minute free-kick headed into his own net by Andriy Yarmolenko.

But Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey took the man-of-the-match honours with an outstanding display that kept the gifted Ukrainians at bay.

So, over six decades after reaching their one and only World Cup in Sweden in 1958, Wales are back at football’s global table.

And, just like at Euro 2016 in France, Wales will find themselves in the same group as England, with Iran and the United States for company.

Success was achieved in the face of the world willing Ukraine on to victory against the odds.

Russia’s invasion of the country in February, and the bloody conflict that has ensued, made Ukraine the choice of neutrals.

But, as Bale said before kick-off, Wales could not show compassion on the field and that proved to be the case when nerves were stretched to the limit.

As Ukraine’s players wilted to the floor on the final whistle, Wales celebrated after banishing the ghosts of history.

So near, so far, in the past. Gut-wrenching failures had slipped into Welsh legend since John Charles and company reached the 1958 quarter-finals before losing to Brazil and a solitary Pele goal.

But now a new chapter has been written.

Page said afterwards: “It’s unbelievable. I’m so proud of these boys. They thoroughly deserved that. The one thing they needed was a World Cup and they’ve got it.

“The fans were incredible. They’re the best supporters in world football, I’m telling you. They helped us from the first minute and deserve all the credit.

“I was more excited than nervous before kick-off because I trust these lads. I see them in training and have complete faith in these lads.”