Euro 2024: Wales' Red Wall gets behind fan with terminal cancer

Matt outside Wembley stadium
Matt is hoping Wales can make Euro 2024 - and that he's well enough to see them there

A Wales fan with terminal cancer is hoping he can travel to see his nation play in one more tournament ahead of their crucial Euro qualifier.

Matt Collins, 35, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in October and given between 12 and 18 months to live.

He said he had been "overwhelmed" by the support from the football community.

"I felt like the Red Wall was united, and they didn't want to lose me, this key brick in the wall," he said.

Wales' qualification hopes for Euro 2024 in Germany hang in the balance ahead of their final Group D qualifier against Turkey, which Mr Collins is hoping to be well enough to attend.

A draw with Armenia on Saturday means Wales must beat Turkey and hope Croatia slip up. If not they will face a tough play-off campaign.

Mr Collins, from Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, has been fundraising for a treatment which can help prolong his life and keep him well enough to potentially follow his team to Germany next summer.

Comedian and podcaster Elis James has helped, saying his story resonated with him.

"When I realised he was from south Wales, and supported Wales, loved the Manics, I just instantly felt like I knew him," Mr James said.

"I just couldn't imagine the stress he was under, being ill and having to cope with the day-to-day difficulties of undergoing cancer treatment, and then having to raise money.

"I couldn't stop thinking about it and I found it unbearable," he said.

Matt (right), with his two friends
Matt Collins (right) says he was not able to go out to France for the Euros or the World Cup in Qatar

Glioblastomas are grade 4 brain tumours.

According to Cancer Research UK, they are the most common type of cancerous brain tumour in adults, and remain the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40.

Mr Collins said a vaccine, DCVax-L, was not a cure, but could give him time.

It is the same treatment 23-year-old Laura Nuttal's family raised money for - a treatment in which a personalised vaccine is made from each patient's own dendritic cells.

They are convinced this helped to prolong her life.

Mr Collins said: "On average it extends peoples lives by three months, and although it costs £250,000, I can't put a price on the time that this allows me to have with my family and friends.

"So whether it's three months or three years, I don't know, but time is so precious to me now."

Matt with his partner Claire
Mr Collins had an operation to remove the tumour and is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy

Jade Passey from the Brain Tumour Charity said there was no cure for glioblastoma, but the vaccine offered people more time.

"There is a poor prognosis anyway for people with this type of cancer, on average it's 12 to18 months, so to add three months, this is quite significant," she said.

"It gives people more options other than chemotherapy and surgery."

Matt with his friends alongside Wales players Tyler Roberts and Chris Gunter
Mr Collins (right) says Wales fans are very special

Matt said he was devastated when he first got the diagnosis, but he also felt "blessed".

"I wrote a letter to my friends and family, stuff that I would have never said to them, and I was conscious I may not get a chance to say it, so it really focused my mind on what I want to do with the time I have and who I want to spend time with, he said.

"Because now, I have to fit my life in a very short timeframe, and living by six-month plans, and if I get past six months, then I'll plan for the next."

Matt added seeing the football community, particularly the Red Wall, support him was "unbelievable".