Iwan Roberts: Welsh boys kept on winning as I found myself lost in France

Wales' Sam Vokes (left) and Gareth Bale (right) during a training session at the Wales Media Centre,

Wales' Sam Vokes (left) and Gareth Bale (right) during a training session at the Wales Media Centre, Complex sportif du Cosec, Dinard. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

It's 9.10am on Wednesday and I've just boarded the train from St Malo in Brittany to Lyon in the south-east of France where Wales face Portugal tonight in the European Championship semi-final.

Yes! The semi-final!

I have to keep repeating that to myself constantly as it hasn't quite sunk in yet.

I arrived here in France on June 6, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever contemplate that I'd still be here as part of the BBC Wales and S4C broadcasting team at the beginning of July!

What an incredible journey we've all been on and I just hope and pray that it lasts for another few days, because if it does that will mean we will either be facing Germany or host nation France in the final in Paris on Sunday evening – but first, of course, we have to beat Portugal tomorrow night.


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Chris Coleman and the Welsh boys have exceeded all expectations, apart from their own – since qualifying back in October, they've always maintained they weren't coming to France just to make the numbers up but to try and win the tournament.

From day one I was quietly confident that we could get out of Group B, but if I'm honest I never thought we'd finish top, especially after we lost to England in our second game.

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We got off to a flying start, beating Slovakia in the beautiful city of Bordeaux, with Hal Robson-Kanu coming off the bench to score the winning goal with eight minutes to go. I have to say I don't think I've ever celebrated a goal so much in my life – not even one of my own.

I'll never forget the atmosphere in Bordeaux; it will stay with me forever, as will the other four games it's been an honour and privilege to have attended.

If I was ecstatic after the win against Slovakia, I've never felt so low and dejected after losing a game as I was after that defeat at the hands of England in Lens.

England fully deserved to beat us, they were brilliant on the day, and I said after that defeat that if England kept performing in that manner they could add the European Championship to their World Cup victory. However, their inconsistencies cost them again. I have to say that even though I was bitterly disappointed when the final whistle went, it didn't last long and I'd got the disappointment out of my system by the time l left the Lens stadium – I still knew that victory or even a draw against Russia should see us through to the last 16 and, after all, that was always our target.

I did see a couple of familiar faces before the game against England as I was walking to the S4C studio – I saw Delia and Michael walking towards the VIP entrance, but they didn't see me as I was in such a hurry so I didn't get a chance to stop and say hello.

Our last group game saw us travel south from our base in Dinard, Brittany, to Toulouse to face a Russian side who knew they had to win the game to have any chance of progressing any further in the competition after winning just one point from their opening two games. And let's be honest they were fortunate to get that point with that last-minute goal against England.

On the afternoon of the Russian game I went out for a run in Toulouse and found a nice little route down by the side of the canal that wasn't too far from our hotel.

But what I failed to realise was there were two canals by our hotel and, of course, yours truly took a wrong turning and ended up running up the second canal and got lost!

I was in a real panic as I had no phone, no money and hadn't got the hotel address on me, so I couldn't ask anyone which way to go. I was out running in the Toulouse heat for over two hours trying to find my way back, stopping Welsh fans walking into the centre of the city every now and then and asking them if they had any idea where the Best Western Hotel was.

In the end I had to go into another hotel and ask them to find the hotel address via Google, which they managed to do, and I somehow managed to flag a taxi down, jump in it and in my broken French explain I had no money, but would pay when I got to the hotel.

I got back at 3.15pm and I'll be forever grateful to that kind taxi driver for getting me back when he did as we were leaving for the stadium at 4pm!

That performance against Russia is as good as any from a Welsh side that I've ever witnessed and those three points meant we topped the group as England and Slovakia drew 0-0, which meant a slightly easier path for us in the knockout stages.

We faced Northern Ireland in the last 16 in Paris and boy did they give us a game – and to be fair they probably were the better side.

But we managed to grind out a victory, courtesy of a Gareth McAuley own goal about six minutes from the end.

I have admit I felt for McAuley for a few seconds – but then I remembered that he's a former Ipswich Town player and his goal had just put us into the quarter-finals!

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