Gareth Bale: Wales qualification may top Champions League win

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Gareth Bale: 'Best loss of my life' as Wales reach 2016 Euros
Euro 2016 qualifiers: Wales v Andorra
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Tuesday, 13 October Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 live and online

Gareth Bale says qualifying for Euro 2016 with Wales might be better than winning the Champions League.

Wales will end a 58-year absence from a major championship next summer after progressing from the qualifiers despite Saturday's loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"This is right up there to be honest, if not above it," said Bale, a European Cup winner with Real Madrid in 2014.

"Everyone knows how important Wales is to me and how proud we are to all play for our country."

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Bale, 26, has also won the Fifa Club World Cup, the Uefa Super Cup and Copa del Rey since joining Madrid for a world record £85.3m fee.

His goal in the Champions League final against Atletico put Real ahead in extra time, as they won 4-1 to secure an unprecedented 10th European Cup.

Bale has played a crucial role in Wales' Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, scoring six and and assisting two of his side's nine goals.

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The 2-0 defeat by Bosnia ended Wales' unbeaten run in Group B, and was their first defeat in 11 competitive matches.

And Bale told BBC Wales Sport: "This will probably go down as the best loss in my career. It's obviously something we've been working hard for since I started and credit to all the boys, all the staff and all the fans - it's a moment to enjoy.

"Now we've done it, no matter what way it was, we've crossed the line and we're going to enjoy the occasion."

The history men

Euro 2016 qualifying Group B
Wales and Belgium have qualified from Group B with a game to spare

Wales' history has been littered with false dawns and squandered opportunities. On six occasions - in 1977, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1993 and 2003 - Wales failed when one win away from reaching the World Cup or European Championship finals.

The only previous tournament appearance came at the 1958 World Cup, but they actually failed to qualify from their group and benefited from political unrest in the Middle East to earn a play-off match against Israel - and that was only after Belgium passed up the opportunity to play.

"We know the history of Wales and we are the first team to actually qualify properly," Bale said.

"It has been our aim all the time and we have managed to put a good run in the qualification campaign.

"It is going to go down in history, but there is still a lot of work to do after this."

All set for a party in Cardiff

With their place in France for the 24-team tournament assured, Wales can now look ahead to a party atmosphere in front of a full house at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday night.

The final match of the campaign against point-less Andorra was always a significant insurance policy should results go against them.

Manager Chris Coleman says the occasion has given him a few difficult selection decisions to make, and Bale insisted he wants to be involved despite only just returning from a calf injury.

"I hadn't played for three to four weeks, I had 20 minutes on the weekend which isn't really much," he said after playing 90 minutes against Bosnia.

"It's good to get some minutes and this [game] will help and I'll be saying to the gaffer I want to be playing on Tuesday."

Wales celebrate in Bosnia
Wales had never before qualified for the European Championship finals
Wales fans celebrating in Bosnia-Herzegovina
The Wales fans that travelled to Bosnia have another party to look forward to in Cardiff on Tuesday

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