Welsh football fans have found an unlikely new hero in comedian Michael Sheen, whose unbelievably stirring rendition of a pre-match speech to the national team captured the hearts of the sporting world.
In an appearance on British comedy quiz program A League of Their Own, host Romesh Ranganathan prompted Sheen to give the audience a taste of what he might say to the Welsh national team before they take to the field at the FIFA World Cup later this year.
What unfolded was an emotional and unexpectedly compelling speech from Sheen, with the inspirational string music playing in the background offering a fittingly dramatic tone for the well known Welsh patriot to work with.
The clip, since shared widely on social media, racked up some six million views on Twitter alone at the time of writing as fans reacted in awe to the passion and eloquence in Sheen's words.
Wales have earned just their second World Cup appearance, with their only other entry coming 64 years ago in 1958.
They'll face off against England, Iran and the United States in the group stage when the tournament kicks off in Qatar on November 20.
Sheen peppered his speech with clever references to Wales coach Rob Page as well as the team of 1958, describing Wales' second World Cup appearance as a 'red storm coming to the gates of Qatar'.
— A League of Their Own (@ALOTO) September 9, 2022
Taking a moment to ready himself, Sheen began as follows: “I hear the voices singing. Speed your journey, bois bach."
“One nation, singing with one voice, a song of hope, a song of courage.
“A victory song that floats through the valleys, like a red mist, rolls over the mountain tops, like crimson thunder.
“A red storm is coming to the gates of Qatar.
“It crackles, with the spirit of ‘58 and Jimmy Murphy’s boys. It turns the pages of the history books and finds Rob’s page, waiting, still to be written.
“What would you write in there, boys? Dare you write your names on that page? We haven’t waited 64 years and come half way around the world to be troubled by a neighbour from back home.
“When the English coming knocking on our door, let's give them some sugar, boys, let’s give them some Welsh sugar.
"They’ve always said we are too small, we are too slow, we are too weak, too full of fear. But yma o hyd, you sons of Speed, and they fall around us.
“We are still here.”
nowhere close to Welsh and yet I'm looking around for an Englishman to club... looking around for leeks to wear
— God's Pestilence on Humanity (@kelexyn) September 10, 2022
— Pacificnorthwestkate (@pnwkate) September 10, 2022
My goodness. Sheer brilliance. You see his mind reaching for it and then it clicks and the Welsh dragon in him comes aflame, wrapped in poetry. My goodness gracious. #MichaelSheen https://t.co/daxShXAP5n
— Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) September 10, 2022
Michael Sheen on our £50 notes
Gareth Bale on our £20 notes
Alun Wyn Jones on our £10 notes
Anthony Hopkins on our £5 notes
Dafydd Iwan on our £1/£2 coins
Only way forward.
— Jordan (@JordanWebber96) September 9, 2022
Wales' World Cup qualification comes with heartbreak for Ukraine
The football world was devastated for Ukraine after they missed out on World Cup qualification in a loss to Wales back in June, amid the Russian invasion of the Eastern European nation.
Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko scored a heartbreaking own goal from a Gareth Bale free kick as Wales won 1-0 to book their ticket to the World Cup.
Wales went on to clinch the victory to break their 64-year World Cup drought - the longest gap between qualifications for the FIFA showpiece for any country.
"It's the greatest result in the history of Welsh football," Bale said.
"I'm just delighted we are going to a World Cup. It means everything, it's what dreams are made of.
"I'm speechless. I'm so glad we've done it for these amazing fans."
Bale was one of those spectators for the remaining 10 minutes or so after being substituted when his body could offer no more.
"It was difficult," he said.
"I haven't played too much football these last three or four weeks because of my back spasm, but the most important thing was to get through. I give my all. I was running on empty."
Needless to say the Ukrainians were left devastated after full-time, with players and fans in tears.
The war-torn country was desperate for some rare good news amid Russia's invasion.
The trip to the World Cup in Qatar gives Bale - British soccer's most decorated foreign export at Real Madrid - a chance to finally play on the sport's biggest stage.
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