Chris Gunter works on winning script for Wales rather than wedding speech

Wales' Ashley Williams, James Chester, Hal Robson-Kanu and Chris Gunter in action with Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart

One of the problems with exceeding all expectations is that some of the best-laid plans can go awry, as Chris Gunter and his family have discovered after Wales reached the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.

Gunter is due to be best man at his brother Marc’s wedding in Mexico on Thursday week, less than 24 hours after Wales would play a semi-final in Lyon if they get through against Belgium in Lille on Friday – and to complicate matters further the groom also seems reluctant to miss any matches.

There is another twist in that the whole wedding party is due to fly out to Mexico on Tuesday, and the stand-in best man is a fanatical Wales fan who has followed his country for more than a decade and has no intention of giving a speech on the other side of the Atlantic when he could be singing Land of my Fathers at the Stade de Lyon. As for Gunter’s parents, Sarah and Gerald, it sounds as if they do not know whether they are coming or going.

“My brother has a problem already because 20-odd people fly on Tuesday to Mexico,” Gunter said. “My mum and dad are going a little bit later but that may potentially clash. I don’t think anyone is really concerned about me. It is more my brother and my mum and dad.

“It is the first [of July] on Friday when we play [in Lille] and my mum and dad fly on the Saturday [to Mexico]. I know my brother is talking about leaving Cancún on Thursday and flying straight in [for the quarter-final] and flying straight out after, but I am not sure that will go down well with the rest, who are flying out with him on Tuesday.”

Chris Gunter

Gunter flagged up before the tournament started that there may be a problem and said that his brother, who has been in France to see all four Wales games, had “taken quite a lot of stick” because of the timing of the wedding.

In a comment that may not go down particularly well with the bride, Gunter also said about his brother: “There’s no way he’ll be in Mexico if Wales are still in the tournament.”

That stance seems to have softened a little. “I am sure the wedding will still go ahead,” said Gunter, who is the most-capped Wales player in the squad. “By hook or by crook I am sure everyone will get to the games and get to the wedding. But I think it will be the first best man’s speech ever on Skype. And I don’t think there would be anyone happier for myself than my family if I wasn’t able to make it [to Mexico].

“The other potential best man, Lee, has followed Wales for about 15 years and there is no way he will be in Mexico if we are still in it. The get-out for Lee was ‘I am doing what you are doing’. So currently my brother is without a best man but I am sure at this moment he is just as happy as me and like the rest of Wales, absolutely over the moon.”

Wales made hard work of beating Northern Ireland on Saturday in Paris, where they needed an own goal from Gareth McAuley to squeeze past Michael O’Neill’s team and reach the last eight. Gunter admitted that Wales are much more comfortable being underdogs.

“Every game in the group was almost like a carnival atmosphere,” he said. “This game was slightly different, we were favourites and it is tough to change that mindset in a couple of days.

“But now that will flip and we can really look forward to Friday and one where nobody will be expecting a lot of things from us. That may suit us as the other team will come out and try and attack us a little bit more, and we have the players to exploit that.”

In the meantime, Gunter needs to get to work on his script. “I haven’t even thought anything about the speech,” he said. “It has been an unbelievable few weeks and things like that make it even more special really. We are just happy we are making everyone extremely proud … and probably denting a few bank balances.”

Powered by article was written by Stuart James at the Parc des Princes, for The Guardian on Sunday 26th June 2016 23.58 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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