Vokes sees parallels with club and country
Striker Sam Vokes says that he can see parallels between the Clarets and Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales.
The 26-year-old has been living in close quarters with his international team-mates for a longer period than expected as Chris Coleman’s side defied the odds to make history in France.
Vokes, who aided Burnley’s return to the Premier League with 16 goals last term, scored the third and final goal for the Dragons in the remarkable victory over Belgium at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, becoming the first ever Claret to find the net at a European Championships in the process.
And those successes, both domestically and internationally, has helped the Welshman identify key resemblances between the two groups.
“I see a lot of parallels in the group - the lads are so close at Burnley and it is very similar here - we are almost like a club team how we have come together on every trip,” he said. “It is good to be a part of both of them really. You can see the togetherness of the team.
“I’ve spoken to Stephen Ward and Tom Heaton, who have been out here as well, and they are on their holidays now but I’ve have had plenty of messages from the lads.”
“It would be amazing (to win the Euros after winning the Championship title). It has been a great season so far and with the next two games hopefully we can go further.”
The Turf Moor number nine, who dons 18 for his nation, came off the bench to replace goalscorer Hal Robson-Kanu with 10 minutes of the quarter-final remaining, beating Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois just five minutes later with a powerful header from Chris Gunter’s delivery.
Radja Nainggolan gave Marc Wilmots’ men, ranked second in the world by FIFA, the lead in Lille before the Welsh hit back through skipper Ashley Williams.
Robson-Kanu, who is without a club after parting company with Reading, put Wales in front in the 55th minute following an exquisite moment of improvisation before Vokes bagged his first goal for his country in over two years.
“Watching from the bench, the work-rate, the way the lads worked for each other was fantastic,” said Vokes. “To get on the pitch and get a goal was a great feeling. Overall I thought the boys were brilliant.
“Although we were under pressure and went 1-0 down the lads stuck together and did their job, it was a tough night for the lads who were out there for 90 minutes because Belgium are a good side.
“The gaffer told me to go out there and hold the ball up and get the win obviously and it turned out that way. To get a goal as a striker is always important and hopefully there will be more.”
He added: “It is an amazing night but we have another game coming around fast and we have to get back to camp and prepare for the semi now.
“It has been a great feeling. We said after Russia that it was the best night we ever had and we have topped that now. It has been a fantastic experience and we go again on Wednesday.”
Wales will now face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on Wednesday at Parc Olympique Lyonnais with kick-off at 8 p.m. And Vokes believes that Wales will go in to the tie as genuine contenders to progress and take the Henri Delaunay Trophy from Spain’s clutches.
“I think throughout the tournament we have gone into every game with no fear,” he said. “This is a new experience for us, others have been before, we have no fear and we will take the same approach in the semi.
“Winning it is our next goal. It sounds crazy but it is a genuine thing and we will be looking to get to the final.”