Chris Gunter - The Centurion
International
27 March 2021

Chris Gunter - The Centurion

It's hard to believe that EURO 2016 was almost five years ago. The hands of time naturally condense the memories into a series of celebratory images that mainly centre on victories over Slovakia, Russia, Northern Ireland and Belgium, the Red Wall, the singing of the anthem on that opening day in Bordeaux and the glory of reaching the semi-finals against all the odds. 

However, there is another image that represents everything about the spirit and 'Together, Stronger' attitude which made that success possible, and this moment in time occurred during one of the lowest points of the tournament. It was a moment that bridged the gap between the players and the fans and highlighted to the rest of Europe the connection that existed between them throughout that memorable summer in France.

Following the 2-1 defeat to England in Lens, Chris Gunter turned to the Red Wall and made his infamous 'chin up' gesture. A simple action, the disappointment and frustration of conceding such a late goal quickly turned into a determination to ensure the tournament was not about to end. Reaching the knock-out stages was still very much within Cymru's grasp ahead of the final group game against Russia, and a brilliant, dominant performance followed in the 3-0 win. The rest is history.

Gunter played every minute of all six games at EURO 2016. A hard-working and consistently reliable full-back, Gunter established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet under former manager Chris Coleman, and his value to the team was recognised when he was named FAW Player of the Year in 2017. Fast-tracked through the intermediate ranks by John Toshack to make senior debut at the age of just 17 in May 2007, Gunter is now set to become the first male centurion in the history of the Cymru national team.

Under the guidance of Toshack, Gary Speed, Coleman and Ryan Giggs, Gunter has been an integral part of this Cymru side through periods of success and failure, and his experience and popular nature within the group has made him a crucial figure in the successful transitions from the bad times to the good. Even when uncertainty over his club career has been of personal frustration, Gunter has never let things interfere with his commitment to his country.

A cult hero with the Red Wall, Gunter captained the team against Albania in November 2018 when he became the all-time record appearance holder with his 93rd cap. His connection with the fans has remained strong throughout his international career, despite experiencing the highs and lows that come from representing Cymru over the course of the last 14 years. However, Gunter is still waiting to celebrate his first goal in the colours of his country, but having already found the back of the net for Charlton Athletic this season, anything is possible.