‘Pleidiol Wyf I’m Gwlad’ translates as “I am devoted to my country”. It’s integral to the identity and philosophy of the Wales football team that has been such a revelation at Euro 2016.
It comes from Wales’ beautiful national anthem ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ (Land Of My Fathers).
Whilst money-laden outfits like Spain and England have floundered and iconic players like Cristiano Ronaldo have struggled to make any real impact, smaller nations such as Wales and Iceland have been the talk of every town in France with their determined and diligent performances, defying the odds and their critics in the process.
The men in red have a world class player in Gareth Bale, but he does not carry the team and nor do his teammates expect him to. Instead, he is just one important cog in a footballing machine that works so efficiently because every part works in tandem and symbiotically.
England might have a handful of some of the most talented players in the Premier League and indeed some of its top goalscorers, but ultimately they always looked like a scratch side trying to work each other out for the first time every time they played.
A lack of consistency in selection, a lack of a coherent and clear gameplan from manager Roy Hodgson and his coaches and a lack of a genuine team spirit from the so-called ‘Three Lions’ cost England dearly. In stark contrast, the men from the Principality know what they’re doing, know each other’s games and fight heroically for each other.
In many ways, Wales are doing on the international scene what Leicester achieved in the Premier League last season. You don’t need Everest-size piles of cash and financial resources to have a successful team, instead you require a small group of players that has a sprinkling of top-class ability but more importantly performs game in and game out.
Every time Wales score, it’s not for themselves, it’s not for their agents and it’s certainly not for their wallets, it’s for the people in the stadium, the millions back home watching on their television screens, but also for each other.
For those of us who are not Welsh, it is a strange feeling to have at the moment: a genuine sense of pride and respect for a team that is not ours. We are living vicariously through one of our neighbours and looking on enviously as they show the rest of the UK how it should be done.
There is so, so much England could learn from this side. Indeed, what would happen if the next England manager ignored players from the biggest clubs in the Premier League and instead selected a side from smaller teams and Championship clubs. Would they have performed any worse than England did this time around? Somehow one doubts it.
Chris Coleman and his charges deserve every single plaudit they get over the next few weeks. In the increasingly business-dominated world that professional football seems to be embracing, there is still room for a little romance. This writer for one will be hoping the Welsh boys can go all the way and win the tournament. From the land of their fathers, the humble sons of Wales are making them very proud indeed.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena