Rob Page has said he found Michael Sheen’s rousing ‘pre-match’ speech deeply moving and that the Wales squad want to meet the Hollywood actor. Sheen’s speech on A League of Their Own has gone viral and Page said he planned to thank him for his stirring words.
Sheen was asked by the television programme’s host, Romesh Ranganathan, to provide a flavour of the kind of message he would give the Wales squad before they play England in their final World Cup Group B game in November. Sheen references Page, the late Gary Speed and the folk singer Dafydd Iwan in the address that has received more than 13m views on social media.
Page and his players are keen to meet the Damned United and The Queen actor. “I’d like to, absolutely,” Page said. “What he has done … Welsh football is in a good place at the moment. I’ve had pals that live in England going: ‘Wow, to be Welsh [must] be unbelievable.’
“I’ve already had messages from the players … they want to get him in straight away, absolutely. I was in a meeting in Cardiff and I was going back up north and my phone was going bananas so I knew something had kicked off. When I watched it, I was in awe of it, it was unbelievable. I’ve had some great reaction from the players and the staff. When you’ve got the passion to do that, we’ve got to use it to our benefit, absolutely.”
Sheen gave his speech on a panel alongside Jamie Redknapp, Micah Richards and Aaron Ramsdale. “Outstanding, outstanding,” Page said. “‘Give them some sugar.’ It’s fantastic. I well up every time I watch it.
“Personally I want to thank him for doing that. I do. I want to let him know that I appreciate what he’s done there. Because we’re on the map but he’s taken it to another level for us.”
Yma o hyd, yma o hyd,
I hear the voices singing,
Speed your journey, bois bach,
One nation, singing with one voice,
A song of hope, a song of courage,
A victory song that floats through the valleys, like a red mist,
Rolls over the mountain tops, like crimson thunder,
A red storm is coming to the gates of Qatar,
It crackles, with the spirit of '58 and Jimmy Murphy's boys,
It turns the pages of the history books,
And finds Rob's page, waiting, still to be written,
What would you write in there, boys?
Dare you write your names on that page?
We haven't waited 64 years and come half way around the world,
To be troubled by a neighbour from back home,
When the English coming knock on our door,
Let's give them some sugar, boys, let's give them some Welsh sugar,
They've always said we are too small, we are too slow, we are too weak, too full of fear,
But yma o hyd, you sons of Speed,
And they fall around us,
We are still here.
Page, asked whether he had already invited Sheen to meet him and his players, jokingly replied: “Absolutely, he’s coming to the first [World Cup] game with me.”
Page, who has signed a new contract, has announced his squad for next week’s Nations League matches against Belgium and Poland.
Wales have handed Fulham’s 17-year-old striker Luke Harris a surprise callup but Aaron Ramsey and Harry Wilson will miss the games because of hamstring and knee injuries respectively.
Harris, who has been capped at Under-19 level by Wales, has been prolific for Fulham’s Under-23s – the Jersey-born teenager scored 13 goals in 21 games last season and netted a hat-trick against Chelsea’s Under-23s last month – and his form has not gone unnoticed. “He’s ready for it,” Page said. “He has got a great family support network and he wouldn’t be where he is at club level if he wasn’t ready for it.”
Page made light of Prince William, the president of the English Football Association, being named Prince of Wales by King Charles III on Friday. Page laughed when asked whether he planned to try and convert Prince William into a Wales fan. “Who’s he going to support?” Page said, smiling. “We’ll have to send him a bucket hat, eh?”