Danny Ward reflects on ‘amazing’ Father’s Day at Stadio Olimpico
Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward has spoken of an unforgettable Father’s Day after FaceTiming his baby and his own father at Stadio Olimpico stadium in Rome.
Ward was one of Wales’ best players in Euro 2020 round of 16 qualifying and produced more heroism in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Italy.
The Leicester player said his favorite moment of the tournament came after the final whistle when he looked up at the big screen and saw the group table with Wales in second place and qualifying confirmed.
But Ward smiled even more moments later when he contacted his 20-month-old son Albie and father Greg from a stadium that hosted both the Olympics and the World Cup final.
“I was sitting in the locker room and kind of realized it was Father’s Day,” Ward said.
“I just thought I would talk to my son and my dad really, it was kind of an improvised thing.
“Anyone would want to talk to their family, and I was lucky enough to be in a pretty amazing environment.
“It’s hard to be away from my family and I thought I would check with my little boy to make sure he was okay.
“He was taking his bottle and was ready to go to bed and I don’t really think he knows what’s going on.
“He just sees the red shirts on TV and sees my face. But it’s times like this that you realize you want to do these things.
“I also spoke to my father afterwards and it was surreal, it was a Father’s Day that I will not forget.
“I said I didn’t want to come home as much as I miss you all, because we appreciate it and I hope we continue to get results to advance to the next round.”
Ward, born in Wrexham, won the battle for Wales’ number one jersey at Euro 2020.
The 27-year-old has been preferred over Wayne Hennessey, 96 caps, although he hasn’t played a single domestic championship game since May 2017.
Ward has only played 14 times for Leicester in cup competitions since joining them from Liverpool in 2018.
But he could now face fellow Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel on Saturday, with Denmark a possible last-16 opponent for Wales.
“It’s a good feeling, something I’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Ward.
“It’s good to show people what I can do on the pitch and the team are also successful.
“But Wayne and Adam (Davies) were amazing. The support they have given me over the past month has been incredible.
“We all push each other and the camaraderie we have as a goalie unit has been amazing.
“My mindset has always been to be number one. You cannot have the spirit of doubting yourself, which is why we all play football to play games.
“It’s been a tough few years, but it’s definitely something I’m savoring.”
Wales, a semi-finalist in the last European Championship five years ago, qualified for the round of 16, finishing ahead of Switzerland, ranked 13th in the world, and a popular Turkish team.
“I think it’s a bigger achievement than what people realize,” Ward said.
“We were a bit off before the tournament, but we wanted to climb the mountain again.
“We gave a good image of ourselves and managed to do it.
“We missed most of our fans who weren’t at the games, but we know they are with us at home and I hope we make them proud.”