Wales must take Euro 2016 success into World Cup qualifying, say players

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Here are the highlights of the day Wales came home from Euro 2016

Wales' players are determined to ensure Euro 2016 is the beginning of their journey at major finals, not the end.

After a 58-year failure to qualify for a major tournament, Wales reached the semi-finals in France where they were defeated by Portugal.

Fans say Wales' heroics have changed football in the country forever and Chris Coleman's side now aim to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"We can keep this momentum going," Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen said.

"We are all very proud of what we have done and hope this is the benchmark and that we can look forward to more future success."

Wales began the tournament as one of the outsiders but caused a shock by topping Group B, finishing above England despite losing to their neighbours.

They then edged past Northern Ireland in the last 16 before upsetting a highly regarded Belgium side 3-1 in the last eight.

Their return to Cardiff on Friday saw thousands of fans line the streets to greet a squad that has captured the imagination of the public in an often rugby-obsessed nation.

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Wales arrive home to an ecstatic welcome from fans at Cardiff Airport

Keep on dreaming

Wales begin their World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Moldova on 5 September with Austria, Serbia, the Republic of Ireland and Georgia the other nations standing between Coleman's players and another major finals.

Captain Ashley Williams wants Wales to top their Euro 2016 efforts in Russia.

"We've said to ourselves on the bus, imagine if we had won the tournament. Because looking at the streets, it feels like we have.

"After the Russia World Cup hopefully it will be the same again, but with a trophy."

Wales' talisman Gareth Bale, the world's most expensive footballer, says he could never have imagined as a child that Wales could reach the semi-finals of a major tournament.

"Growing up, maybe not, maybe I didn't dream this was possible," he told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"It has been the dream of many and we have fulfilled that potential."

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Wales have returned home after their Euro 2016 adventure . . . but what memories they have given us.

Young squad ready to thrive

Allen feels Wales have age on their side as they look to qualify for a first World Cup since 1958, when they reached the last eight.

"I definitely feel we have more to give, we are still a young team, we all still have our prime to come and hopefully we can keep this confidence up and keep on growing as a team," he said.

Reading defender Chris Gunter is confident the squad can take their performances to another level.

"I don't think there is any way we won't build on this and will let this go," he said.

"Because these are the foundations for what we want to do for the next number of years and we won't be able to not use this experience and the momentum we now have.

"We need to start the next campaign well, soon this will be in the distant past, so we need to enjoy it while we can."

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