Gareth Bale was unable to hide his joy after Wales secured their spot at their first World Cup since 1958 with a 1-0 play-off win over Ukraine, claiming the game was the ‘greatest of his life’.
The 32-year-old’s first-half free-kick was directed in by Ukraine captain Andriy Yarmolenko to seal the Dragons’ second ever appearance at the tournament.
Both sides had multiple chances to score as the second half went on, with Brennan Johnson striking the post and Bale being denied by goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan, while Ben Davies made a series of goal-saving challenges at the other end.
Bale had told a Sky Sports reporter to ask him post-match whether Sunday’s game was the ‘greatest of his life’, to which he responded: “Yeah! The result is the greatest result in the history of Welsh football, we’re all so ecstatic. The fans are together, it’s a delight, and we’re going to a World Cup.
“[It means] everything, it’s what dreams are made of, it’s what we’ve been working for since we first came here.
“I’m speechless because we’re so happy. We did it for all these amazing fans in our country, words don’t describe how we’re feeling at the moment.
“[The game] was difficult. I haven’t done too much over the last four weeks because of my back spasm which everyone knows about. I was just happy to get through the game and contribute in whatever way I could. The most important thing like I said was to get through to the World Cup.”
Wales interim boss Rob Page opted to substitute Bale with minutes left to play, with some fans concerned about the prospect of playing extra-time without their talisman had Ukraine found a late equaliser.
And Bale admitted it was nervy watching on as the clock ran down and Wales just about sealed their place in Qatar.
“Yeah, it wasn’t ideal, but I did my all on the pitch, I was running a bit on empty so it was good that we had players who could come off the bench and do a job.”
Bale ended the interview with a question about whether he would postpone his retirement, to which he replied with a smile: “For a little bit.”