Wales dreams of reaching the last 16 of the FIFA 2022 World Cup knockout stages ended in Qatar with a 3-0 defeat by England in Group B.

“Wales were soundly beaten and we wished England fans the best of luck for the remainder of the tournament – bring the cup back for the UK,” said Martin Hughes.

Welshman Martin, who travelled to Benidorm with brother Gareth, and pals John and Ian, flew from Bristol Airport to Spain staying at Hotel Rio Park, Benidorm, to watch the game.

“The hotel was 100% British clientele,” said Martin, father of Preston North End defender Andrew Hughes.

Speaking exclusively to the Costa Blanca and Costa Calida Leader, the group paid £200 each, including transfers for the four-day trip.

“The weather was beautiful when we arrived, having left behind a damp, cold and foggy South Wales,” said Martin.

“The first thing we noticed was the large number of people wearing Wales tops – fans we spoke to had come more in hope than expectation – there was a lot of optimism before the game,” he said.

“The morning of the game was upon us and we ventured out for a stroll along the promenade – Wales fans were very much outnumbered – we were getting cheers and thumbs up, from Scots and Irish wishing us well,” said Martin.

An hour before kick-off the quartet moved three times to different pubs, until finding one they felt comfortable in.

“It had a good mix of fans and there was great banter – we had neutrals on our side too!,” said Martin.

Martin added: “Half time (0-0) came and went, and we agreed Wales hung on and were looking for that one chance that may arrive.

“When England scored we knew that was it – the damage was done in the previous game against Iran.

“If Wales had won that, then maybe Wales and England could have played out a West Germany vs Austria-esque draw.”

Goals from Marcus Rashford (2) and Phil Foden saw England top Group B after their 3-0 win, with Wales’ going out of the World Cup, finishing bottom, with 1 point.

It was Wales first World Cup since 1958, with their fans support outstanding in Qatar, in what was their first World Cup in 64 years.

“We had a day to recover after the game – getting over our sore heads – but we still wore our shirts with pride.

“Wales were in a group with countries who had populations of 331m, 81m and 55m, so all in all it was a fantastic achievement to get to a World Cup.

“The knockout stages are when it gets interesting – it’s still strange though having a World Cup in the middle of a domestic season. Roll on the next one!,” added Martin.

Hitting the bar: John, Gareth, Ian and Martin.
Flying the Welsh Dragon flag in Benidorm.