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Made in the EFL: Wales stars set for Euro 2016 semi-finals

5 July 2016

Having defied the odds to make the last four of Euro 2016, we chart the careers of the Wales squad ahead of their crunch match with Portugal on Wednesday.

The side that contains plenty of EFL flavour stand on the brink of more history, after they surpassed their previous best result at a major tournament – a World Cup quarter-final in 1958 – last week.

The players have, by their own admission, gone beyond their own expectations, with many having had to cancel or postpone some rather big life events...

Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace)

Hennessey made more than 150 appearances for Wolverhampton Wanderers during an 11-year stint at Molineux, whilst also embarking on loan spells at Bristol City, Stockport County and Yeovil Town.

The 29-year-old has kept two clean sheets at Euro 2016 so far, against Russia and Northern Ireland, and has conceded just three goals in four games.

Chris Gunter (Reading)

Having previously played for Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest, Gunter has been at Reading since 2012. He boasts 72 Wales caps, and will overtake Welsh legend Mark Hughes on the all-time appearance list should he feature against Portugal on Wednesday.

Gunter will have his parents in attendance at Stade de Lyon in what has been a tough decision for the family, who are now set to miss the wedding of the 26-year-old's brother. 

Tears of joy on the night our country will never forget.Unity in a team is the most powerful thing you can have

— Chris Gunter (@Chrisgunter16) July 2, 2016

Jazz Richards (Fulham)

With Ben Davies suspended for the Portugal clash, Fulham's Jazz Richards could fill the void in Wales' biggest match in international history.

Richards joined the Cottagers from Swansea in 2015 – linking up with then-boss and Wales assistant coach Kit Symons – whilst playing his part in helping Chris Coleman's side to Euro 2016.

James Collins (West Ham United)

Collins is the other contender to replace the suspended Davies on Wednesday, and also made his name in the EFL.

The 32-year-old began his career at Cardiff City, and has since had two spells with West Ham United either side of three years at Aston Villa.

Ashley Williams (Swansea City)

Scorer of the crucial equaliser as Wales beat Belgium 3-1 in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals last Friday, Williams will once again captain the side on Wednesday.

He joined Swansea City in 2008, helping them to the League One title that season, before going onto win the Championship Play-Off Final with the club in 2011, and the EFL Cup in 2013.

Courtesy of those achievements, Williams was named in the Football Manager Team of the Decade at the EFL Awards in 2015.

James Chester (West Bromwich Albion)

Enjoyed loan stints at Peterborough United, Plymouth Argyle and Carlisle United prior to joining Hull City in 2010. Played for five seasons at the KCOM Stadium, and was promoted from the Championship with the Tigers in 2012.

Has become a mainstay in the Wales defence in recent times, and has played in every match at Euro 2016 so far.

Neil Taylor (Swansea City)

Having experienced relegation from the EFL with Wrexham in 2008, Taylor enjoyed a remarkable first season with Swansea City in 2010/11, which culminated in the club winning Championship promotion after Play-Off Final victory over Reading.

Has played every minute of Wales' Euro 2016 campaign to date and got on the scoresheet for the first time for his country in the 3-0 triumph over Russia.

He joins the long list of Welsh players who have had to miss events through their tournament success – he was unable to attend Beyoncé's concert in Cardiff last week.

Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace)

Spent six seasons at boyhood club Cardiff City and endured Championship Play-Off Final heartache with the Bluebirds in 2010.

Having broken a bone in his leg in May, Ledley has gone on to play a part in all of Wales' Euro 2016 matches.

Success with his country has seen the 29-year-old forced into cancelling his wedding, which was due to take place on Saturday.

Joe Allen (Liverpool)

Allen, like Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor, was key to Swansea City's memorable 2010/11 season in which they won promotion from the Championship. Has since joined Liverpool, and was a pivotal player on their route to the 2016 EFL Cup Final at Wembley.

The Carmarthenshire-born midfielder has been at the heart of everything Wales have achieved so far at Euro 2016, taking plaudits as one of their best players at the tournament.

David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder David Edwards featured in all of Wales' Euro 2016 group matches, and started in their opening game with Slovakia last month.

With Aaron Ramsey suspended for the Portugal tie, he could find himself playing a major role on Wednesday.

A night to savour!

— Dave Edwards (@_DaveEdwards) July 1, 2016

Jonny Williams (Crystal Palace)

After helping Crystal Palace to Championship Play-Off Final success against Watford in 2013, Williams has spent time on loan with Ipswich Town, Nottingham Forest and Milton Keynes Dons over the last few seasons.

Has appeared in three of Wales' five matches so far, and is widely tipped to start their crunch semi-final with Portugal.

Andy King (Leicester City)

King is another contender to start and fill the void for the suspended Ramsey on Wednesday.

Knows a thing or two about an underdog story, having played for Leicester City in League One and the Championship prior to picking up a Premier League winners' medal with the Foxes last term.

George Williams (Fulham)

Yet to play at Euro 2016, but 20-year-old Williams has made Wales' Euro 2016 squad at the age of just 20.

Spent time on loan with MK Dons and Gillingham in the last two seasons after injuries struck, and has gone on to earn seven caps for his country since his debut in March 2014.

David Vaughan (Nottingham Forest)

Has worn the shirt of Crewe Alexandra, Blackpool and Nottingham Forest throughout a 16-year club career that has seen him play the majority of his football in the EFL.

Still to take to the field at Euro 2016, but ranks as one of Wales' most experienced players having made his debut back in 2003.

David Cotterill (Birmingham City)

Bristol City, Sheffield United, Swansea City, Portsmouth, Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers are just some of the clubs Cotterill played for prior to his move to Birmingham City in 2014.

Was a frequent figure in Wales' Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and has made more than 20 appearances in the red of his country.

Shape of a heart says it all ❤️ amazing performance amazing group of lads 🐲

— David Cotterill (@cotterill_david) July 1, 2016

Simon Church (Milton Keynes Dons)

Church has represented Reading, Crewe, Yeovil, Wycombe Wanderers, Leyton Orient, Huddersfield Town and Charlton Athletic previously to his current club MK Dons.

Featured briefly against Russia in Wales' final group match at the tournament, and is fast approaching 40 international caps.

Hal Robson-Kanu (Unattached)

A free agent this summer after 12 years at Reading, Robson-Kanu has been vital to Wales' run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

He netted the winner in their 2-1 defeat of Slovakia in their opening group game, and stunned Belgium with a delightful turn and goal inside the penalty area to put Wales in front last Friday.

Sam Vokes (Burnley)

While Robson-Kanu's goal gave Wales hope against Belgium, Vokes' late header sealed the victory and capped the most famous night in their history.

Vokes has played for an array of EFL clubs, but has settled at Burnley in recent times, helping them to a second promotion from the Championship last season.

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

The main man. Galactico and catalyst of the greatest period in Welsh football history, he began in the EFL with Southampton.

A Young Player of the Year Award winner in 2007, Bale was also named in the Football Manager Team of the Decade at the EFL Awards in 2015.

Has scored three goals en route to the last four for Wales, and is still in contention for the tournament Golden Boot.


— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) July 1, 2016

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