Collins honoured to reach 50 caps

James Collins was honoured to pick up a commemorative golden cap after playing 50 games for Wales and says he will never forget helping his country defy all the odds to reach the semi-finals of the Euro Finals during the summer.

The 33-year-old capped off an unforgettable summer by making his 50th appearance in a World Cup Qualifier in the 4-0 win over Moldova back in September.

The Wales Football Association recognised the memorable milestone with a special presentation to the West Ham defender before the Hammers Emirates FA Cup game against Manchester City last Friday.

Collins, who won his first cap for Wales back in 2004, has been a crucial part of Chris Coleman's squad and will never forget being part of the team that reached the last four of the Euros in France.

Collins said: “It is another proud moment and a long time coming. I made my debut 12-years-ago and have been forced to miss a few squads through injury, but to eventually reach 50 caps is a massive privilege and honour for me and my family.

“I still remember getting my first cap playing Norway away and it was a long time ago. We drew 0-0 and I played alongside Danny Gabbidon. We got a good result and there was many more to come after that.

“The highlight for me has to be playing at the Euro Finals during the summer. When I first started and to see Wales reach a semi-final of a major tournament is something I will look back on forever, not just for Wales but my whole football career. It has been the highlight.

“I don't know how many more caps I have got left in me, but to finish on something like the Euros is something to be proud of.

“The main objective for us was to qualify for the Finals which we managed to do and we went over to France looking to enjoy the tournament.

“I don't think any of the lads who played there will realise how big an achievement it was until they stop playing. To have those memories for myself and my kids is something special.

“I feel Wales are a force to be reckoned with now. We have taken massive strides forward over the last four-years and we are in a great position in the world rankings. We have got some big games coming up in the World Cup Qualifiers and hopefully we can qualify for the next World Cup.

There was more good news for Collins after he resumed training with the first-team squad this week after missing the busy festive period with a hamstring injury.

The experienced defender is now hoping to put himself in contention for the big London derby against Crystal Palace at London Stadium on Saturday.

Collins added: “I am back in training and just missed out on the FA Cup game against Manchester City.

“I will train again with the lads this week and will hopefully be in contention for the game against Crystal Palace.”