(Reuters) – Representing Wales at the European Championship is a welcome change from being on “holiday” during a major international tournament, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has said.
Wales will be making a first appearance at a major finals since the 1958 World Cup when Chris Coleman’s side kick off their Euro 2016 Group B campaign against Slovakia on Saturday.
Ramsey is keen for Wales to stamp their authority early on in the tournament with a positive result in their Bordeaux opener.
“I’m excited… normally I’m on holiday now,” the 25-year-old told reporters in France. “Our target is to get out of the group first and I think a win will probably get you through, maybe in third place.
“We are determined to not get rolled over. We want to… show people what we are capable of, rise to the occasion.”
Wales may be tagged as underdogs in some quarters but Ramsey said his team mates would take heart from Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League campaign, which saw the pre-season 5,000-1 outsiders crowned champions last month.
“You saw the Leicester odds,” he added. “Anything can happen. We work our socks off for each other (and)… definitely have the determination to fight for each other.”
The midfielder is also looking forward to the possibility of facing some of his club team mates in the later stages of the 24-team tournament.
“When the campaign started and we (Wales) got those couple of wins early on, I kept winding the Arsenal boys up saying ‘I’ll see you in France’,” he said.
“To finally achieve it was great. To go in knowing I’d actually be playing in the finals, I can share that experience now with some of the players who have done it. I can’t wait.”
England and Russia are the other teams in Group B.
(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)