Coleman is relishing chance to make history with Wales

Wales manager Chris Coleman.
Wales manager Chris Coleman.
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Chris Coleman has no intention of playing the occasion down as he prepares his side for what he calls Wales’ biggest game for 58 years.

Wales meet Belgium in Lille tonight with a Euro 2016 semi-final place the prize for the winner.

Coleman’s men start as underdogs against opponents ranked second in the world, but the Wales manager said his squad have taken inspiration from talking to a member of the 1958 side which reached the quarter-final of the World Cup.

“We had a good week training in Portugal before we came out here and one of the players from the ‘58 team came out and had a chat with some of the boys,” said Coleman.

“We were talking about the 1958 experience they had.

“In those days, when players arrived back off the train they were asked whether they’d been on holiday because nobody knew they’d been at the World Cup.

“We’re sure it meant the same to them as to us now, but we have to say we don’t need to ham this game up.

“We know what’s at stake, we know we’ve earned it, and it’s a great place to be. Since the 1958 quarter-final, we have to put this down as the biggest game our country’s been involved in.”

Coleman insists Wales will embrace an occasion which will be like a home game for Belgium.

The French city of Lille is just a few miles from the Belgian border and Wales fans will be heavily outnumbered.

But Coleman promised it is a game that his players are looking forward to, and do not see as their final stop in the competition.

“I’m not going to play the occasion down, I’m going to enjoy it and savour it,” said Coleman.

Belgium are without Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen, out for up to eight weeks after tearing ankle ligaments.