Wales had waited 64 years to play at a World Cup and ended up getting knocked out by England.
It was not the conclusion Wales wanted – and certainly not the one suggested by their Torquay-born striker Kieffer Moore who had advocated the very opposite before Robert Page's squad left for Qatar – but it should not take away from the achievement of ending their long wait for a World Cup finals appearance.
After Tuesday's 3-0 defeat to England, Wales are heading home with no wins, one point and one goal to their name.
Wales manager Robert Page told BBC One: "It's very tough at this moment in time.
"I thought first half we were outstanding. The effort they put in without the ball was exceptional.
"We addressed at half-time that we could be a little bit better with the ball but I won't have a bad word said about that group of players.
"We're disappointed to leave the tournament but, if we're going to go out, that's the way to go out, that first-half performance was excellent."
Wales World Cup 2022 squad
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest), Danny Ward (Leicester), Adam Davies (Sheffield United)
Defenders: Ben Davies (Tottenham), Ben Cabango (Swansea), Tom Lockyer (Luton Town), Joe Rodon (Rennes), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Ethan Ampadu (Spezia), Chris Gunter (AFC Wimbledon), Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest), Connor Roberts (Burnley)
Midfielders: Sorba Thomas (Huddersfield), Joe Allen (Swansea), Matt Smith (MK Dons), Dylan Levitt (Dundee United), Harry Wilson (Fulham), Joe Morrell (Portsmouth), Jonny Williams (Swindon), Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff)
Forwards: Gareth Bale (Los Angeles FC), Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth), Mark Harris (Cardiff), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Dan James (Fulham)
Who are their key players?
There has been an injection of youth into the Wales set-up under Rob Page’s leadership, after the 47-year-old stepped up from his role as Under-21 manager from 2017 to 2019. But there are still many experienced heads who have been mainstays in the side for the last 10 years.
Aaron Ramsey continues to be a key midfielder at the heart of most of their forward play. The former Arsenal man has joined Ligue 1's Nice on a free transfer from Juventus and scored on his debut in the 1-1 draw with Toulouse. He has since played in 10 league matches.
Ethan Ampadu has already racked up 36 caps at the age of 21 after bursting onto the scene with Chelsea back in 2017. He is still registered to the London side but spent 2021-22 on loan in Serie A at Venezia and moved back to Italy in the summer for another loan spell in the top flight with Luca Gotti's Spezia. His ability to play as a centre-half in a back three, back four and in defensive midfield is a huge asset for Page.
Bale remains the life and soul of the team. A national hero, he joined LAFC after being seemingly ostracised at Real Madrid, and scored twice in his first 12 appearances in MLS, 10 of them from the bench. Going into the tournament he was looking to add to his 40 goals for Wales which make him their all-time leading goalscorer, comfortably eclipsing Ian Rush's 28.
Who, where and when do Wales play?
Group Stage fixtures
What is Wales’ World Cup record?
This is Wales’ second World Cup and their first in 64 years. They reached the quarter-finals in Sweden where it took a goal from Pele, during his breakout tournament aged only 17, to knock them out.
A more reliable indication of Wales’ chances in Qatar was their showings in the last two European Championships. Last year, a heavy 4-0 defeat by Denmark in Amsterdam knocked them out in the round of 16.
But five years before that, they went all the way to the semi-finals after topping a group containing England and dramatically beating a star-studded Belgium side with goals from Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes. A 2-0 defeat by eventual winners Portugal ended their fairy-tale journey.
A golden generation for the Welsh national side, inaugurated under the stewardship of the late Gary Speed, looks to be reaching its twilight.
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