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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 28, 2006

Bale delighted to become youngest Wales player

Teenager Gareth Bale spoke of his pride at becoming Wales youngest full international and had a message for his best mate Theo Walcott - 'I got there first.'

The Southampton youngster, is a former room-mate of England's Walcott and, at just 16 years and 315 days, has won his first cap ahead of the £12m Arsenal youngster.

Bale came on as a second-half substitute in Saturday's 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Graz, creating the winning goal for Robert Earnshaw.

Bale said: 'I got my cap first, Theo has so far only got the B cap from last week.

'But I wish Theo all the best, we are good friends and we used to room together so I know when he gets his chance with England he will take it, he is a very level-headed person who takes everything in his stride.

'It is not something we had ever discussed when we were at Southampton together, but since he went to Arsenal he is obviously more in the spotlight and now he is going to the World Cup.

'We played together from Under-13 level at Southampton and I had no doubt he has the ability to make an impact. He is a very focused person, a great asset for England and I think he will do well.'

Cardiff-born Bale, still on Academy forms because he cannot sign as a full professional until his 17th birthday, was another of John Toshack's raw recruits to be blooded at this level.

Lewin Nyatanga, now 17, held the record as his country's youngest international for just two months, and Bale added: 'I am proud to be the youngest player ever to represent Wales, and hopefully I can carry on playing at this level.

'My mum and dad were not here but they were watching on TV and they also rang me before the game to wish me all the best.

'John Toshack had said beforehand he hoped there would be an opportunity for me to get onto the pitch and thankfully that happened. I just wanted to do my best and helping to set up the winning goal was a great feeling and gave me a huge buzz.

'But it is only the beginning for me and I have got to take it on from here. Earnie played the ball to me and as I went forward I heard him shout, pull it back, so that's what I did. Obviously he did the rest.'

Earnshaw's double were his first goals for his country since the final game of Mark Hughes' reign.

Toshack pointedly said: 'I have been waiting for him to do that for a while now.'

And the player himself added: 'It is a great feeling, but not a relief for me.

'I just want to play and the goals got us the win, and that is what it is all about. To be fair I haven't started that many games under Tosh but I have been in for the last two and I got the goals, which I always do.

'Not having scored for 20 months for Wales did not play on my mind, I just go out and enjoy games without a care in the world so I never worry about not scoring.'

England's strikers will now believe they can do what Earnshaw did to the Caribbean islanders, and the Norwich man said: 'Michael Owen and the rest of their squad are all brilliant, they are the best in the Premiership and they are a very special group.

'I expect England to beat Trinidad, but because it is the World Cup there are always going to be upsets.

'To be fair to Trinidad, this was a warm up game for them and they approached it in that manner. Nevertheless, I am sure they are looking forward to that England game.

'I am sure it's going to be hard for England. The pressure will be on them to go out and win, so that could have an effect on them.

'You can't just walk out to get a result, you have to work at it, play well and score the goals.'

Saturday's win was part of an encouraging spell for Wales. Their two main sides have won five matches in 17 days, including qualification for the UEFA Under-21 championship.

It has been a huge test of their administration as players have been ferried around Europe between the two squads, from Estonia, back to Port Talbot, then onto Bilbao and back to Wrexham before finally ending up in Austria.

Toshack added: 'Things have gone well. We have brought in a lot of very young players and have won all five matches over the period. I believe there is a lot more to come.'

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