Wales

Wales squad visit World War One cemetery in Belgium

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Media captionWales players visited the cemetery the day after their 0-0 draw with Belgium

The lexicon of war is often used to describe football matches.

None of Wales' players thought twice about using the word 'battle' to describe their hard-fought draw against Belgium on Sunday night.

But standing in front of the rows of gravestones at Artillery Wood Cemetery near Ypres, Gareth Bale and his team mates could not help but reflect on what kind of battle they might have faced had they been born a century before.

Young men from Wales in the prime of life were cut down in this area during World War One at the same age as the tracksuited stars who paused to remember them.

Bloody battlefield

Image copyright Gareth Bale on Twitter

"Some of them are multi-million pound players but they've still got a heart of gold," said Football Association of Wales (FAW) President Trefor Lloyd Hughes.

"When they come here and see what's happened in the past, they realize how important it is. They wanted to come here."

The players stood quietly in small groups as the Last Post was sounded at a small ceremony at the grave of poet Hedd Wyn - a hero of another era.

The world's most expensive footballer, due to fly back to Madrid on a private jet later on Monday, spent most of the time by himself, taking photos and listening carefully to the story of this bloody battlefield.

Wales manager Chris Coleman, who laid a wreath at a memorial in nearby Langemark, said: "It puts it into perspective when you see what some of our young men went though 100 years ago.

"When they came here, they didn't go home again. They gave up their lives for our future. We don't know how lucky we are."

Image caption Wales manager Chris Coleman laid a wreath at the new Welsh war memorial at Langemark

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