Euro 2024: Welsh fans who went to Germany despite Wales' absence – Football News

Euro 2024: Welsh fans who went to Germany despite Wales' absence

By Eirian JonesBBC News

Aaron Hill Photo of Matt Jones and Aaron Hill. Matt is on the left wearing a red Wales football shirt and has sunglasses on. Aaron is on the right, and is wearing a red Wales football shirt and sunglasses as well as a khaki hatAaron Hill

Friends Matt Jones (left) and Aaron Hill (right) decided to head to Germany despite Wales failing to qualify

The Euro 2024 group stages have ended, and despite Wales having not qualified, some dedicated Welsh fans still made the trip to Germany.

If Wales had scored their decisive shoot-out penalty against Poland during the final qualifier, tens of thousands of supporters from Wales’ Red Wall would have travelled to the tournament.

But many had already started preparing for the trip before knowing Wales’ fate and despite their team’s absence, some have stuck with their plans.

Among them are friends Aaron Hill and Matt Jones, who chose not to let the inconvenient matter of their missing nation to derail their plans.

“We were obviously gutted that Wales didn’t qualify, but we really didn’t want to miss out,” said Mr Hill, from Porthcawl.

“We went to the Euros in 2016 and the atmosphere was absolutely phenomenal, but going to the last two tournaments has been really difficult with Covid in 2020 and then the World Cup in Qatar.

“We weren’t going to let one missed penalty mean we miss out.”

‘You’ll definitely be embraced by the other fans’

One of the matches the friends were particularly excited for was the Poland-France game at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.

This fixture would have featured Wales, had they qualified.

At that game, they did meet some unexpected Wales supporters.

“We got to the ground and as we came up their were seven or eight people wearing Wales shirts, but they were all Germans,” said Mr Jones, from Bridgend.

“They had made their own shirts because they were expecting Wales to be at the fame and wanted to support us.

“They couldn’t believe that we were actually Welsh, they kept coming over to have a chat and of course asked us for approval on their shirts as well,” he added.

“With Wales, there’s something about being a small nation and that identity being a really important part of who you are, so it was a lovely moment to see that,” Mr Hill said.

Aaron Hill Aaron Hill and Matt Jones in their football shirts with six other German fans who are wearing homemade Welsh shirtsAaron Hill

Aaron Hill (front) and Matt Jones (left) with the German fans and their homemade Welsh shirts

Euro 2024 also marked the first opportunity for one group of friends to attend the tournament.

The group of eight from the Cardiff are all in their mid-twenties and missed out on Euro 2016 because of their GCSE exams and were unable to go to Euro 2020 because of Covid restrictions.

Gareth Scourfield said: “The next Euros are at home, which is great, but not the same.

“The World Cup is going to be in North America which is expensive, and who knows if Wales will be there – now was the perfect time for us.

He said when Wales lost the final they were “gutted” and sulked for a couple of days, but then thought ‘we’ve been looking forward to this, and it’s so close, lets just go’.

Another member of the group said they had not made detailed arrangements until after Wales had lost in the final round of the second chance games.

Griff Daniels, from Pontypridd, said: “Obviously Wales didn’t qualify which is unfortunate but we thought on the positive side and thought we’ve had the freedom to follow different teams without the pressure of having to follow Wales.”

Gareth Scourfield One man in yellow and white stripy t-shirt wearing a red and green hat, with his arm around another man who has a red top on and the same red and green hatGareth Scourfield

Gareth Scourfield (left) and Griff Daniels (right) at London Stansted Airport ready to catch their plane to Germany

Mr Hill added: “We’ve had such a good trip, people have been approaching us about our shirts and inviting us to join them.

“We’ve been experiencing different cultures and different fans. We’ve hung out with Albanian fans, drank vodka with the Polish fans and visited a traditional Georgian restaurant ahead of the Georgia game.

Mr Jones added: “Hopefully Wales fans will experience the next tournament but if they don’t I’d recommend to anyone to go along and have fun.”

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