Career High

Edwards relishing Wales progress

Dave Edwards says he feels at the pinnacle of his career being with the Welsh squad at the European Championships – with only Wolves’ promotion to the Premier League to rival the achievement so far.

Edwards started the opening victory against Slovakia, and then came off the bench against England and Russia, as Wales topped Group B at Euro 2016 to set up a last 16 tie with Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

Off the back of Monday’s 3-0 win against Russia, Edwards admits he is in the middle of some special times both for himself and, more importantly, Wales.

“The atmosphere (on Monday) was incredible,” says Edwards.

“First and foremost it is such an amazing achievement to be here.

“And then we went out and won the game in the manner in which we did was outstanding and our best for a long, long time.

“That shows the quality we have got in the squad and the real determination as well.

“To win the group as well makes it extra special and it was amazing afterwards and shows far we have come.

“I think this is the pinnacle of my career at the moment – and hopefully there is still more to come in this tournament.

“It is the most amazing experience you could wish for as a footballer, and I have had some great moments in my career so far.

“I think the only thing I can replicate it to is when we got promotion to the Premier League with Wolves.

“But this is on a higher level to that and a bigger stage with a whole nation backing you and the whole world watching.

“It is an amazing achievement.

“We have been away for the best part of a month now and have all been indulged in the football and it has been great to have the whole nation behind us as well!”

Edwards has come back and contributed to the Welsh cause so far having broken his metatarsal playing for Wolves at Queens Park Rangers back in January.

He has been entrusted by Wales manager Chris Coleman, as he was in the final stages of the qualifying campaign, with a more defensive and disciplined midfield role in contrast to the more attacking position he regularly operates in for Wolves.

Edwards has relished that show of faith, and is enjoying every minute he gets on the pitch, still believing at 30 that he is learning all the time.

“When I was younger I thought that at 30 you would be finished and on the way downhill!” he says.

“But training with players here like Gareth Bale. Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen – it is only going to improve me and I am learning new things all the time, especially tactically.

“That is going to play a massive part in my remaining years playing football and hopefully afterwards as well.

“I think I have been in the team for my experience and being able to get around the pitch and win the ball back and I have really enjoyed it.”

Edwards knows the all-British last 16 tie with Northern Ireland will be another stern challenge for Wales.

“Every team that gets this far has quality and has got to this stage for a reason,” he says.

But he hopes the impressive Welsh support will continue to play a part in driving the team on even further into the tournament.

“The support has been out of this world,” he says.

“They have come in their numbers and supported us right from the start.

“Regardless of us winning games or winning the group, if we had lost every game I think they would have been exactly the same.

“They have been passionate and noisy – they have waited a long time for this and it is so nice that we can do our bit on the pitch and reward them and make their stay a bit longer.

“Every game we are saying that is the best atmosphere we have ever seen and it is getting better and better.

“It was so special in Bordeaux when we want for a walk before the game and the streets were lined with Wales fans.

“They were so complimentary and getting behind us which was great to see and then the drives to the stadium – it has just been a wall of red and that has got bigger every single game.”

And Edwards has also received plenty of support from Wolves fans back home via social media who have backed the Molineux midfielder.

“I have been getting so many messages of support and haven’t had anything that isn’t really supportive,” he says.

“I know they all want England to do well but I also think they have taken to their heart that there is someone from Wolves out here at the tournament and I am proud to be doing that.”