Sport Friday, June 10th Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: Rob Purdie, Ryan Green, BT Sport, Steve Niblett

Greeno vs Purds: two Hereford FC stars go head-to-head with their Euro 2016 predictions

Sport Friday, June 10th

Greeno vs Purds: two Hereford FC stars go head-to-head with their Euro 2016 predictions

It’s England vs Wales, as we pit Hereford FC team-mates Rob Purdie and Ryan Green against one another for some predictions shenanigans ahead of the big one on Thursday.

In a blatant attempt to pick up some tips for my own predictions pool, I got in touch with the two Hereford stars – each with their own international history – ahead of the tournament to get their picks for everything from the Golden Boot, to England v Wales, to which Hereford player reminds them most of Wayne Rooney (on the field, not in their dating habits).

England v Wales - take the QUIZ and find out who you should really support 

The story of Green’s own past for the Dragons is fascinating in its own right. As a 17-year-old still on the fringes of the Wolves team, Bobby Gould handed the bright-eyed defender a call-up.

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It would make Green the youngest player ever to run out for Wales, a record since eclipsed by a certain Gareth Frank Bale, and currently held by Harry Wilson. It was also a move that touched a nerve for the previous holder, Ryan Giggs, who later mentioned it in his autobiography.

“Playing for Wales at 17 was a dream.” Green said. “I didn't even play for Wolves first team at the time.”

Green’s selection for a two-game stretch against Malta and Tunisia put him at the heart of the Wales defence, lining up alongside none other than current Wales manager, Chris Coleman.

“Coleman was a gentleman, and loved playing the guitar after an away game with a few beers,” Green said of his former team-mate.

“He really helped me out, and so did others, in giving me confidence and advice.

“I made my debut with Bellamy, which was good as I grew up with him, playing local football against him since I was 10-year-old.”

Those ‘others’ Green mentioned made up the Wales Golden Generation, before this Golden Generation.

The teamsheet for the Tunisia friendly saw Green share billing with Savage, Speed, Bellamy and Hartson.

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Green hits the extra-time winner for Hereford against Halifax in the 2006 Conference playoff final, goes full-Ronaldo with the celebration.

It was a team that fell short of making a major tournament, despite the presence of Giggs, who at the time limited his presence to competitive matches, but one that Bale, Ramsey and co. grew up watching.

How would they fare against the current crop?

Green said: “I think the current team would find it very difficult to beat my old Welsh team with Giggs, Hartson, Bellamy etc all in their prime.”

And the Cardiff native is not the only Edgar Street favourite to have had the honour of belting out his country’s national anthem.

Long before he was smashing in 30-yarders at Wembley, Rob Purdie collected a pair of caps for England C, the representative team for non-league football.

In 2004, while in his first spell at a playoff-bound Hereford then in the Conference, Purdie was named to the national squad for two games against their Italian counterparts. One win, one draw.

“I have my shirt framed, with my cap underneath it from the first one,” Purdie said.

“I also got called up to two tournaments, but unfortunately I was injured for both having had a couple of operations.

“It's always an honour – and it’s something I can look back on when my career is over.”

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Anyway. Enough of the history lesson. Here’s what the boys are saying about Euro 2016:

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How do you see the England v Wales game playing out?

RP: I think it will be cagey because neither team will want to lose it. A tight game, maybe 2-1 or 2-0 to England.


RG: I would take a 1-1 for Wales v England. But that's more hoping.

 

Who do you see as the key players for England – and do any of them remind you of guys you’ve played with this season for Hereford?

RP: I think Rooney is still England's main man. His all-round game and presence on the pitch puts him ahead of anyone. Out of the England team he's the one I'd want to play with, he reminds me of me. (Joking).

RG: Bale and Ramsey will be key for us. A lot of pressure will be on them. I hope they produce what they're capable of. I'm sorry but none of the lads remind me of Bale - but Birchy’s got a touch of Ramsey, I suppose.

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Two Aarons. Ramsey (left), Birch (right).

What’s been your best moment as an England/Wales fan?

RP: Italia ‘90 was is my earliest memory of England.  I loved everything about it and used to watch the VHS of England's highlights all the time in my room.

RG: As a Welsh fan, the best moment is Wales reaching the Euros, and as a player, making my debut against Malta at 17. It was unbelievable making my debut with all those Welsh household names.

How will you be celebrating(/rubbing it in to your mates) to if your team gets the win on Thursday?

RP: It's ‘small-man syndrome’ with Wales.  I think even if England win then everyone will think we should have – but if Wales win then I expect some messages off from Greeny!!

RG: If we beat England I might have a few beers and give my team mates a bit of friendly abuse on our team WhatsApp group.

 

Who do like to win the whole thing (and why)?

Purds: England to win for obvious reasons - although I don't think they will. If not, I'd like Portugal to as Ronaldo needs an international win on his CV.

Greeno: I would like Wales to win the Euros because I'm Welsh and proud :).  But I personally think Germany will win it.


Who’s your pick for Golden Boot?


RP:  I think it will either be one of the big boys like Muller or Giroud. If not, then an outsider that overachieves with his country, like Lewandowski.


RG: Top scorer for me will be an outsider Ibrahimovic and I think Sweden will have an outside chance of winning it.

 

Which of the smaller teams would you pick as a dark horse to cause a few surprises?


RP: Russia, Switzerland and Poland.

RG: Romania as France will give them the runaround on Friday and they will get frustrated.

 

Who’s your money on to pick up the first/worst booking of the tournament?

RP: Probably a French player being too hyped up.

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Out of the players going to France, who would you most like to play with, and who would you like to play against?

RP: I'd love to play with someone like Ibrahimovic. Although he is selfish, he would be great to play off and make runs off for an attacking midfielder. Play against? Maybe Kante, just see how good his pressing is.

RG:  I would love to play with Ronaldo - for me he's the best player ever. But I would also like to play against him to see exactly how quick, strong and skilful he is. I’m sure I would have to retire after that game.

 

In Group B (Eng, Wal, Russia, Slovakia) – which two, or three, teams make it out?

RP: I think England and Russia will go through, not sure who will win the group though.

RG: I want Wales and England to qualify. Obviously Wales because I'm Welsh, and England because my Nan is from Newcastle and I've lived in England half my life with football.

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