Our opponents: Belgium

International Football – UEFA Euro 2016 – Qualifying Round Group B – Wales v Belgium
Sgorio

Sgorio

Wednesday, 29 Jun 2016, 13:20

We now know that our quarter final opponents will be Belgium and they don’t need much of an introduction seeing as how Wales have faced the Belgians in the qualifying rounds of both Euro 2016 and the 2014 World Cup!

And whilst most of Europe’s pundits have been salivating over Marc Wilmots’ team’s performance against Hungary on Sunday, every single Welsh person will be remembering the famous win over Belgium in Cardiff last June.

Hearing the crowd sing the anthem with such gusto with 20 minutes remaining and with Wales 1-0 up is something that will stay with me forever and was certainly one of the highlights of our qualifying campaign.

And there have been several highlights and milestones in our past meetings with Belgium.

Ryan Giggs scored his first international goal for Wales against Belgium at the Arms Park in 1993 when he was a fresh faced 19 year old and in October 2013 Harry Wilson became Wales’ youngest ever international when he came on as a substitute in the match against Belgium in Brussels.

But more notable than any other statistic is the fact that Belgium were the first non British side to play on Welsh soil when they travelled to Cardiff in 1949.

Wales, along with the other British Associations, resigned from world football’s governing body, FIFA, in 1928 following a dispute about FIFA’s definition of amateurism.

Because of this, Wales played very few matches against non British opposition – between 1876 and 1949 Wales played just two matches against anyone from outside the British Isles, both of which were against France in Paris.

Having rejoined FIFA at the end of the Second World War, the Football Association of Wales arranged a tour of continental Europe in 1949 with matches against Portugal, Belgium and Switzerland.

The tour was notable not only for being Wales’ first tour of the continent, but also because Wales would have to play in a change strip for the first time as all three opponents also wore red shirts.

The FAW decided to choose yellow shirts … or “daffodil yellow” as they were described in the FAW minutes!

Wales lost all three matches including a 1-3 defeat at the hands of the Belgians in Liege, but they got their revenge later that same year when Belgium travelled to Ninian Park for the historic fixture.

35,000 poured into Ninian Park to see the exotic continental football for the first time but a Trevor Ford hat-trick ensured a 5-1 win for Wales!

Belgium’s team was made up of amateur players back then and the Rode Duivels have come a long long way since the late 1940s and currently lie second in the FIFA world rankings.

A win on Friday night for Wales would be an even more historic result than the match which opened the doors to facing European opposition in the first place.

Join Dylan Ebenezer and Owain Tudur Jones for LIVE coverage of Wales v Belgium on S4C on Friday at 7.30pm