Harry Wilson emerges from the shadows in the post-Gareth Bale era to shine for Wales | The Sun

HARRY WILSON has blossomed from Wales squad player to front line star since Gareth Bale has retired.

The Fulham winger, 26, was the Dragons' hero with two goals in the superb 2-1 Euro 2024 qualifying win over Croatia last month.

And national boss Robert Page reckons Wilson has finally emerged from the shadows to take centre stage with talisman Bale no longer around after he hung up his boots in January.

Page said: "Harry would turn up 12 months ago and expect to be part of the squad or if he started he would be substituted on the hour mark.

"But the mentality has changed. When he plays for us now he's one of the main men. He showed that in the last game.

"He's been around for a long time.



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"Because of the players we had available to us before in Gareth, Joe Allen and Jonny Williams, perhaps he looked at it and felt he was a squad player.

"We had a chat with him in the summer and said: "You are no longer that person or player. Look at what you're doing at club level. You're a big player for us'.

"I don't expect him to come in now and just accept to play for 55, 60 minutes. 

"I want him to have that mentality that he's one of our top players and he's going to win games for us.

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"He's playing in the Premiership, scoring goals and creating chances. He certainly stepped up to the plate against Croatia."

'Diamond' Wilson cost £12million when he swapped Liverpool for Fulham in 2021.

He put Wales to within two wins of qualifying for the finals in Germany next summer with his match-winning display on his 50th cap against Luka Modric and co.

Now Page believes the ex-Anfield star, who faces Aston Villa today, sets the standard for the next generation.

Page, whose side travel to Armenia next Saturday for the first part of a double-header with Turkey arriving in Cardiff on November 21, added: “You see him train. 

"I said to the young lads up in Wrexham for the Gibraltar game last month, just watch him warm up.

"He’s the nicest fella you will ever meet off the pitch, he relaxes in his down time and his banter is great.

“But when he crosses that line, he’s a model example of what you would want a modern footballer to look like. I say to the kids – watch him.

"Everything he does is to the nth degree.

“You can see why he has had the career he has and why he is playing in the Premiership.

"Credit to him in how he's looked after himself and he deserves the plaudits.

I'm so pleased for him because he's not just a good player, he's an absolute diamond of a kid."

Wales have evolved since the retirements of record caps holder and goalscorer Bale, Allen, Williams and Chris Gunter since the 2022 World Cup.

Despite losing that vast experience, Page insists Wilson as well as midfield pairing of Ethan Ampadu and Jordan James have shown they can keep the Dragons competing for future major tournament qualifications.

Page said: "Ethan has been around for years, coming up to this 50th cap, in the New Year he will get that.

"He has a wealth of experience but we now have that young group of players who have cap accumulation.

“Ethan has gone to another level, H, JJ with his level of performance against three of the best midfielders in the world against Croatia.

"It will hold us in good stead for the future.

“We have put a committee together and it has given them more responsibility to look after each other. We had a committee with Gareth for the World Cup and building up to it.

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"We have another one now and we think some of the young ones need to be a part of that and step up.”

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