Football: Pembridge points way

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The header Mark Pembridge powered into the Albanian net in the decrepit surrounds of Tirana's Qemal Stafa Stadium was crucial for Wales as it ensured they avoided the indignity of finishing bottom of Group Seven.

It was equally significant for the 24-year-old Pembridge. Proving himself to the Wales manager, Bobby Gould, as a goalscoring midfielder could help secure his place in the Welsh side.

"In the modern game midfielders need to score and the system Bobby has brought in gives me licence to get into the box," Pembridge said. "If I can score every now and then it's got to give me a better chance of staying in the side."

Pembridge's performance on a shocking pitch was outstanding, but it was another 90 minutes example of the special talents of Ryan Giggs that was inspirational, and made Gould aware all over again of what a rare gem he has at his disposal.

"Ryan's under pressure all the time, he's a world superstar even in a place like Albania, but we want him to be able to relax when he's with us," Gould said.

What Gould certainly has achieved in his three months in charge is to raise the morale of the Welsh squad, something that could hardly have been lower in the final months of the Mike Smith era.