Bale ‘will win 100 caps’

Date published: Tuesday 9th June 2015 10:38

Leicester fans: Get into Christmas spirit

Ledley was playing on the night of May 27, 2006 when Bale won his first cap against Trinidad & Tobago in the Austrian city of Graz to become the youngest Welshman – at 16 years and 315 days – to represent his country at that time.

No Welshman has won 100 caps – goalkeeper Neville Southall holding the record on 92 and the late Gary Speed the most for an outfield player with 85 – but Ledley feels Real Madrid forward Bale will achieve that mark after recalling how the young substitute made an immediate impression by setting up Robert Earnshaw’s winner on his debut.

“Oh yes, I remember Trinidad. Earnie scored the winner,” Ledley said of a friendly arranged on the eve of the Soca Warriors’ 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany.

“You could see Gareth had something special, brilliant on the ball, fast, and you could see his free-kicks as well. He has always had that.

“You never thought ‘maybe Madrid’ but that is down to him. That is his dedication and the way that he has focused on the game and, credit to him, he deserves to be where he is.

“For me he is one of the best players in the world and I think Gareth and Wayne (Hennessey) will get to 100 caps, and Chris Gunter is also over 50 at such a young age.

“I roomed with him once or twice as we had just come into the squad. He was quiet and used to just get on with it. Any kid who comes through at club and country is shy, but he has grown into a man.

“But you can see from Gareth now that he plays for one of the best teams in the world. You can only just listen to a person like that and learn.

“He has proven now at his age that this is what he wants to do. He is so dedicated to Wales, he loves meeting up and we treat him like anyone else who walks through the door. But he wants to win and is only used to winning.”

Wales have not been as close to qualifying for a major tournament in the decade since the 28-year-old Ledley made his international debut.

Beating Belgium, the world’s second ranked team on Friday night, would put Chris Coleman’s side within touching distance of ending Wales’ 58-year wait to grace a major tournament.

“You always dream of it (qualifying) and we are at the mark when maybe it can come true,” Ledley said. “We just need to keep believing and that is the main thing.

“It is going to be very difficult against Belgium because they are a fantastic team with great players. But we have set ourselves a high standard and hopefully we can qualify.”

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