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Euro Diary: Sam Vokes

23 June 2016

It’s been a great week for us in the Wales camp after making it through to the last 16 of the tournament.

As you all know, we played England on the Thursday afternoon, so we travelled from our Dinard base to Lens the day before.

While I was disappointed not to get on, it was good to see Heats after that game and we had a long chat about the tournament so far and he’s really enjoying it too.

We were naturally all a bit gutted after conceding so late against England, having played well, but we re-grouped with a few little team building exercises in the days after it.

I say it a lot but the spirit in our group is so similar to back home at Burnley, because everyone just gets on and we're all of similar ages, so it’s fantastic to be around.

There is plenty to do with the other games on each day and the facilities we've got here, so we spend a lot of time together and that’s generally how we’re using our down time inbetween games.

We also have a bit of fun with something called ‘Court’, which is a bit like the spins a lot of clubs have where, if you’re late for training or do something stupid, then you roll a dice and one of those numbers has an outcome, like singing in front of the group or dancing.

Similar to the England game, we travelled down to Toulouse the day before and I was absolutely buzzing when I got the news I’d be starting for the first time in the tournament.

It was an unbelievable experience with the atmosphere and everything that was riding on the game.

I have to say it’s probably the best night I’ve ever had with Welsh and there have been some special ones since I’ve been involved, but to top the group in the manner we did with a 3-0 win and to play the full 90 minutes was brilliant.

We went back to the hotel to celebrate and had a couple of drinks together, but with it being such a quick turnaround our focus is now on to the Northern Ireland game on Saturday.

It is arguably the better side of the draw to be on through finishing top, but we know that every game is tough at a major tournament and certainly when you’re playing in the knockout stages.

You have to beat everyone if you want to go all the way and we know Northern Ireland will pose a tough test, as we drew 1-1 with them in March.

One thing I’ve had a few comments on since being here and photos that have popped up on social media is the beard!

I just thought I’d let it grow and there are a few boys in the squad, like Joe Ledley and James Collins, who’ve got them as well.

I’ve probably just left it because my partner isn’t here with me to tell me to get rid of it, but I might have to keep it going if results keep coming our way and hopefully we can reach the final.

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