England cannot match Welsh pride – Bale

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Euro 2016
Host: France Dates: 10 June to 10 July
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Gareth Bale says Wales will demonstrate more pride and passion than England when they meet at Euro 2016.

It will be the neighbours’ second match of the tournament with Wales facing Slovakia and England taking on Russia on Saturday.

The two home nations meet in Lens on Thursday, 16 June.

“I think we’ve got a lot more passion and pride about us than them. We’ll definitely show that on the day,” said the Real Madrid forward.

Wales’ first major tournament for 58 years begins in Bordeaux on Saturday against the first of their Group B rivals.

But Bale already has his sights on England.

“They big themselves up before they’ve done anything, so we’re going to go there and we believe we can beat them,” said Bale.

Coleman's 50 second Wales appearance<!–

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“For me it is probably the stand-out game in the group stages, but there is no pressure on us because they believe they can beat us.

“I had a chuckle when England came out, I’m not going to lie.

“It’s an amazing game to be involved in and it’s like any derby – you never want to lose to the enemy.

“Even in the recent [rugby] World Cup when we won – I remember those. England don’t get that, do they?”

Bale’s English grandmother meant he was qualified to play for the Three Lions, but he did not pursue that option.

The Cardiff-born player said: “I don’t know what it is, but if you’re Welsh, we feel more pride and passion than anyone else.

“Look at the national anthem – everyone sings, the whole stadium. I remember the Belgium game, we were all tired, and the whole stadium just started singing it.

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“I don’t think any other nation would do that. Being Welsh just brings it out of you.

“It’s like when I was young and being in a pub with my parents, everyone watching rugby or football on the television. Everyone was together, singing. It’s the way we are brought up.”

Bale says the death of Gary Speed, manager Chris Coleman’s predecessor, as well as 58 years without appearing at a tournament has left him and his team-mates more appreciative of international football.

“What happened made us come together, stronger,” said Bale.

“We’ve had to go deep to bring our emotions out, bring it on to the field.

Wales captain Ashley Williams in the friendly match against Northern Ireland in March 2016<!–

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“In this campaign you’ve seen it. After every game we are all in huddles.

“We’ve been through so much to be here now, and it’s definitely a shame that we’ve had so many great players – Ryan Giggs being one of them – who never experienced a major tournament.

“I think we appreciate it more than other countries – and we just have to give it a go.”

Bale became the youngest Wales goalscorer in October 2006 when he netted in their 5-1 defeat by Slovakia, aged 17 years and 83 days.

“There was difficult times for a while, but we were all young and building for the future,” said Bale.

“We’ve had a style of play which has taken time to embed.

“I don’t think we stopped believing, but we had to get more experience, grow together.”

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