Gunter defends Wales’ celebrations of England’s defeat

Date published: Tuesday 28th June 2016 5:08 - Rob Conlon

Chris Gunter: Defender was part of celebrations

Chris Gunter insists Wales players have no regrets about the footage of the squad celebrating England’s defeat to Iceland.

Gunter did accept that those watching the footage might see it as “being slightly over the top”, but he said that was not meant to be the case.

The defender also pointed to England’s exuberant celebrations following their 2-1 victory over Wales in the group stage as evidence that football has a way of “bringing out emotions” in people.

The Wales squad watched England’s 2-1 defeat to Iceland at their Brittany base and were filmed the moment Roy Hodgson’s side were sent crashing out of the tournament.

Footage showed players and staff jubilantly cheering and hugging each other as England – who eventually finished second to Wales in Group B despite their victory in Lens – suffered one of the worst defeats in their history.

Asked if the squad regretted those celebrations, Gunter said: “No. I think it may be easy to see it as being slightly over the top.

“But it certainly wasn’t meant to come across that way.

“If you asked the squad as a whole, from a selfish point of view, we are ever so proud to be the last home nation team in the tournament.

“We’ve come such a long way and football has a funny way of bringing out emotions, as you’ve seen when we played them a couple of weeks ago.

“No one has talked about Iceland, another team who were written off before a ball was kicked and now they’ve reached the quarter-finals.

“It’s fantastic for the tournament that Iceland are still in there.”

Gunter’s team-mate Neil Taylor said the Wales squad had supported smaller nations like themselves throughout the tournament.

“From Albania to Hungary, they have been a breath of fresh air, and Iceland were written off as well.

“I obviously know Gylfi (Sigurdsson) and he has explained to me about Iceland and what they are all about.

“I saw that when they qualified, and in this tournament they have been unbelievable. That was half of the celebrations because of how well Iceland have done.

“I understand how it has come across, but as a group of players we’ve supported Iceland all along.”

Wales were boosted ahead of Friday’s quarter-final with Belgium when skipper Ashley Williams was able to train with the rest of the squad in Dinard.

Williams suffered a shoulder injury in the closing stages of Saturday’s last-16 victory over Northern Ireland and it was feared that he might miss the Lille clash.

But Williams is expected to start against Belgium and Taylor said of his Swansea and Wales team-mate: “I’ve played with him for years.

“He’s been in pain since the game, but there are lots of ways for the medics to get you back than maybe in the olden days.

“He’s had 24-hour treatment on it and he’s feeling okay. It’s a big boost for the game on Friday after how he was looking in the game on Saturday. It’s massive for us.”

Belgium will start as favourites to make the last four despite losing to Wales in Euro 2016 qualifying just over a year ago.

Eden Hazard was in majestic form as Belgium booked their quarter-final spot with a 4-0 victory over Hungary, and the Red Devils will be expected to dominate possession at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

But Gunter said: “If you come off the pitch after playing against us, I think the first thing you think is ‘They work really hard’.

“If you’re going to beat us, you’re going to have to work really hard for it. If we can keep goals to a minimum, we always give ourselves a chance.

“We take pride in our defensive record but, if a team gives us the opportunity to attack, we’ll do so.”

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