Dave Edwards' story on Euro 2016 and his career
“And then came the anthem……we were singing it with the Welsh fans away to our right behind us. We could hear the roar from them belting it out with so much passion. And we could see all the lads on the bench in front of us, with the manager and the backroom staff, all with their arms around each other. The atmosphere was out of this world.
“I remember looking up to the big screen towards the end of the anthem and there was a Welsh fan screaming it out with tears streaming down his face. We knew how much it meant to those fans. We knew how much it had cost them to get to games and having to take time off work and everything else that went with it. And seeing that fan on the big screen just brought all that home to me about just how much it meant for Wales to be at a major tournament after so many years.”
For everyone connected with Wales, the opening European Championships fixture against Slovakia in 2016 was the culmination of 58 years of waiting.
Almost six decades of pain, anguish, frustration, all forgotten with a stirring rendition of Land of My Fathers which shook the Stade de Bordeaux to its very core.
The players shared in that feeling, in that unbridled emotion. Not least former Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards, whom, just a few months earlier, had hobbled into the away dressing room at Queen’s Park Rangers with a broken metatarsal fearing that his own lifelong dream of representing Wales at a major tournament was about to be extinguished.
‘Dave Edwards: Living My Dream’ is the story of just what it took for Edwards to progress from kicking a ball around the leafy fields of Shropshire to proudly belting out that anthem in Bordeaux, and starting the opening game for Wales in the European Championships.
The story of a player whom, by his own admission, has wrung every last drop out of his ability to enjoy a career which has seen him make over 500 appearances for club and country, spanning all four of the English divisions, as well as non-league.
How he moved from terraces to pitch at his boyhood club Shrewsbury Town before driving away from the club in floods of tears after a contract dispute which denied him the chance to play at Wembley.
How he rebuilt his career at Luton only for the club to go into administration within just a few months, albeit inadvertently pushing him towards the move to Wolves which was to lead to the Holy Grail of the Premier League.
Those years that followed at Molineux, where injuries left Edwards on the brink of depression before a complete re-evaluation of his mental state propelled a revival for both player and club.
And then, after almost ten years as a Wolf, how his time at the club came to a sudden and dramatic end as, after over 300 appearances, he departed Molineux towards the end of the summer 2017 transfer window for a fresh challenge at Reading.
This new publication flicks between Edwards’ upbringing and club career and his recovery from that injury as a background to the main event - a behind-the-scenes fly on the wall account of that magical month inside the Welsh camp at Euro 2016.
Detailing just what it is like for a player cacooned inside the bubble of a major tournament, and how the Welsh players adapted and forged such an untouchable team spirit, spurred on by the unshakeable pride of an entire nation.
How Chris Coleman managed the squad, and the tournament, with such meticulous planning and inspirational leadership that allowed the players to thrive on the biggest stage and go within 90 agonising minutes of making the final.
The story of a family man who feels fortunate and privileged to have enjoyed the career that he has, and a rare insight into the day-to-day life of a professional footballer, ‘Living The Dream’ should appeal to all football fans with an interest in – and passion for - the inner workings of the Beautiful Game.
“I keep a regular journal, and, as the Euros developed into such a fantastic tournament for Wales, a couple of people suggested I should consider writing a book,” Edwards explains.
“So, over the last year or so, I worked with Wolves Head of Media Paul Berry to put it all together and provide a really detailed account of the tournament from a player’s perspective.
“I have tried to portray not only the details of how we prepared for each game and relaxed in our ‘down time’, but also the immense pride we all felt in playing such a key part in Welsh footballing history, not to mention our huge appreciation for the support of the incredible Red Wall.
“Details of the tournament and the build-up are interspersed with an account of my club career to date, with some massive ups and downs and how I feel I have developed over the years to make the absolute most of the abilities that I have.
“Being a footballer is a privileged existence – it is one I have never taken for granted and one which has given me some unbelievable experiences.
“Hopefully this book will give people an insight into what it means for a farm boy from Shrewsbury to follow his dream, making it both to the Premier League and being part of a Wales squad which reached the semi finals at their first major tournament in 58 years.”
*’Dave Edwards: Living My Dream’ is published by St David’s Press, based in Cardiff, and with a long-standing and proud tradition of publishing books about Welsh football.
The 224-page publication, with a foreword from England keeper Joe Hart, retails at £13.99 and is due for release on December 7th.
Pre-publication orders can now be made directly from the publisher – www.st-davids-press.wales - or from Amazon. When published, the book will be available from all booksellers and online retailers. Visit www.daveedwardslivingmydream.com for all the details.
Dave is also planning a signing session with the book before Christmas.
All of Dave’s proceeds from the book will be donated to the Little Rascals Foundation, the charity he set up with lifelong friend Ben Wootton in Shrewsbury to help children with disabilities.