World Cup 2022: Wales’ Daniel James heads to Qatar inspired by late father

Daniel James
Daniel James has scored five goals in his 38 senior Wales appearances

“Be yourself, play with a smile on your face and don’t let anything faze you”.

Those are the words Wales winger Daniel James suggests his late father would have said to him as he departs for the World Cup in Qatar.

James lost his father Kevan in May 2019, just three weeks before his £15m transfer from Swansea City to Manchester United.

But he did get to see James play for Wales and score on his debut against Slovakia two months previously.

“It was an emotional one,” James told BBC Sport Wales.

“I was so glad that he got to see me playing for Wales. He didn’t get to see me in the Euros and he won’t get to see me in the World Cup, but I’m sure he will be looking down and be incredibly proud.”

Yorkshire-born James now plays his club football at Fulham and scored against former club United at the weekend.

He said he owes his professional career to his dad, who got him involved in a Wales camp when he was 12.

“He was only able to do that because he emailed the person to say that he was Welsh and that I qualified to play for Wales, otherwise I would not have been in the set-up,” James explained.

It was as a result of James’ Wales involvement that he was picked up by Swansea City’s academy, making the move from Hull City when aged 16 in 2014.

“He was the one that let me go down to Swansea to play for them,” he added.

“It was hard for my mum and my dad to let me go because they wouldn’t see me as much, but I wouldn’t be here today without that.”

Wales kick off their first World Cup campaign in 64 years against the United States on Monday, 21 November, with James – who has been a regular under Robert Page – anticipating a “goose-bump moment”.

“Every time I sing the national anthem it’s very emotional, but after you have got to come back down to earth because you have got a game to play,” he added.

“The Wales fans will be out there. That is massive for us because they weren’t at the last Euros unfortunately. I am just glad that they can come and support us.”

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