THE father of a football star from Wrexham has spoken of his pride in watching his son qualify for the World Cup with Wales.

A deflected free-kick from Gareth Bale was enough to earn Wales a 1-0 win over Ukraine in Cardiff on Sunday, June 5.

That victory means Wales will now appear at Qatar 2022 in November in what will be their first World Cup appearance since Sweden 1958.

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Among the stars on the night was Neco Williams, who provided a scintillating display that received rave reviews from many pundits and fans alike.

The 21-year-old is from Cefn Mawr and is a former people of Ysgol Rhiwabon.

Having been with Liverpool FC since the age of just six years old, Neco signed his first professional contract with the club in 2019.

His career has gone from strength to strength since then, enjoying a loan spell with Fulham this season in which he made 14 league appearances and scored two goals as the club won the EFL Championship.

He has also earned 20 caps for Wales since 2020, scoring on two occasions.

The Leader: Wales defender Neco Williams

PIC: Neco Williams in action for Wales. PA News Agency.

But it was that all-important victory over Ukraine that will no doubt live long in the memory for Neco, who described qualifying for the World Cup as a 'dream come true'.

He was among four other North Walian footballers in the squad that night along with Wayne Hennessey (Beaumaris), Harry Wilson (Corwen - who attended Ysgol Dinas Bran School, Llangollen) and Danny Ward (Wrexham - who attended Hawarden High School).

Neco's dad Lee and mum Emma were at the match in Cardiff to witness the historic moment unfold.

Speaking to the Leader, having just come back from down south, Lee said: "The whole team was fantastic, but it was such a tense game. Absolutely nerve-racking.

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"The last 10 minutes in particular was hard to watch, but when that final whistle blew it was a massive relief. 

"The whole family are just so, so proud of Neco. Picking up the papers today and seeing that he's received nine and 10 out of 10 ratings is amazing.

The Leader:

PIC: Neco with mum Emma.

"We missed out on the start of his Wales journey due to no fans being allowed into stadiums at the time of the Covid pandemic so this was a huge moment for us.

"He's been with Wales since the age of 10 or 11, so to be there soaking up the atmosphere in Cardiff with him and the rest of the Wales team was brilliant."

Asked about whether the family would be going to the World Cup in Qatar, Lee added: "I've actually been there before with Neco, with the Under 12's at Liverpool.

"Neco will be able to get us tickets, but the accommodation over there is very expensive so we're not sure if we'll make it yet. Maybe, if Neco wants to treat us, then we can!"