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‘Down-to-earth’ Bale sets the tone for tight-knit Wales – Williams

Wales midfielder Jonny Williams says captain Gareth Bale’s “down-to-earth” personality is a unifying force within the squad as the country prepares for its first World Cup appearance since 1958.

Williams, who now plays for Swindon in England’s fourth tier, was part of the Wales squad that reached the semi-finals at Euro 2016 after ending a 58-year absence from major tournaments.

The Welsh also made the last 16 at Euro 2020 and will again look to the likes of Bale and Aaron Ramsey to lead from the front as they take on the USA, Iran and rivals England in Group B.

“We have a massive togetherness in the squad. I think it starts from the manager but also having a captain in Gareth and a leader who’s so down to earth,” said Williams.

“He treats everyone the same, he sets the stall out a bit. Any young player coming into the squad sees Gareth’s got no ego, he has a laugh… and everyone should be like that.

“I think that’s why the squad’s so strong.”

Wales came through the play-offs with a 1-0 victory over Ukraine to reach the finals.

Williams put no limits on how far Wales can go at their first World Cup since a team inspired by John Charles advanced to the quarter-finals in 1958 before losing to Pele’s Brazil.

“It’s very surreal being at a World Cup, to see the Wales flag surrounded by some top nations like Brazil and Argentina,” said Williams.

“It’s got a bit of a different feel to the past Euros. It’s the world stage, the World Cup, it’s the pinnacle.” 

Bale and Ramsey were among five Wales players missing from Saturday’s training session in Doha, having been placed on individual programmes to manage their workloads.

“When we have a full strength squad we can compete against anyone,” added Williams.

“I think we showed that again in the Nations League. We got relegated but I think we showed we can compete with some top, top nations.”

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