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FOOTBALL: Young Dragon Alex’s Euro aim
BOX’S Alex Bray is delighted that a successful season at Swansea City has ended with him being handed the opportunity to attempt to fire Wales to this summer’s European U19 Championships.
The 19-year-old winger, who plays for Swansea’s U21 side, is part of the Welsh squad currently competing in Portugal for a place at July’s U19 Euros in the elite round – the second qualifying stage for this summer’s tournament in Hungary.
Wales drew 1-1 with Belgium on Wednesday and are due to take on Portugal today (kick-off 5pm) and Greece on Monday, with the group winners qualifying for the finals, which take place July 19-31.
Bray made his long-awaited international bow as a substitute in the Young Dragons’ 2-0 friendly victory over Montenegro in April, marking his debut with an assist, almost a year on from when injury prevented him from appearing for the U19s after his first call-up.
“The hard work has paid off for me in the end – I think that I’ve had a good season and I’ve been rewarded,” said former Corsham school pupil Bray, who also spent time at Swindon Town’s academy.
“Being involved with Wales in games like this is exciting. I came off the bench in my first game and set up a goal and then started the second one (also against Montenegro), when we drew 0-0.
“At Swansea, we’re used to playing pass-and-move football and international football is a lot different. I’ve had to chase a lot more balls over the top and it’s a lot slower but I think that it’s a lot more tactical too.
“We’ve got a good side and I think that we’re a match for anyone on our day. We know that we’re the underdogs in our group but I think we’ve got every chance of doing well.”
After completing his first year as a pro at the Liberty Stadium, Bray was rewarded with a one-year extension last month.
The youngster is not sure what his next season with the Swans will hold but says that he is settled in South Wales.
He added: “I’m thinking about getting my own place over there because I was living with one of the other lad’s family last season.
“I played in most of the U21 games last year and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next year – I was obviously happy to stay there though.
“Some lads get sent out on loan and I wouldn’t mind doing that. I’m happy to play anywhere as long as it’s first team football.”
Bray’s dad Marcus, who lives in Box, made around 500 appearances for Trowbridge Town, earning a reputation as a tough-tackling midfielder and featuring in the Bees’ FA Vase semi-final defeat to Guisley and their spell in the Alliance League, now known as the Conference.
He is out cheering on his son in Portugal, alongside Bray’s stepbrother Ryan Jones.
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