Even as they lose to Bosnia, Wales has reason to celebrate as they climb up the world rankings and into Euro 2016.
Wales will end a 58-year absence from a major championship next summer after progressing from the qualifiers despite Saturday’s loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Nonetheless the 2-0 defeat by Bosnia ended Wales’ unbeaten run in Group B, and was their first defeat in 11 competitive matches.
Gareth Bale: Wales qualification may top Champions League win.
“This is right up there to be honest, if not above it,” said Bale, a European Cup winner with Real Madrid in 2014.
“Everyone knows how important Wales is to me and how proud we are to all play for our country.”
Bale has played a crucial role in Wales’ Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, scoring six and and assisting two of his side’s nine goals.
“This will probably go down as the best loss in my career. It’s obviously something we’ve been working hard for since I started and credit to all the boys, all the staff and all the fans – it’s a moment to enjoy.
“Now we’ve done it, no matter what way it was, we’ve crossed the line and we’re going to enjoy the occasion.”
Cardiff is ready to party
With their place in France for the 24-team tournament assured, Wales can now look ahead to a party atmosphere in front of a full house at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday night.
The final match of the campaign against point-less Andorra was always a significant insurance policy should results go against them.
Manager Chris Coleman says the occasion has given him a few difficult selection decisions to make, and Bale insisted he wants to be involved despite only just returning from a calf injury.
“I hadn’t played for three to four weeks, I had 20 minutes on the weekend which isn’t really much,” he said after playing 90 minutes against Bosnia.
“It’s good to get some minutes and this [game] will help and I’ll be saying to the gaffer I want to be playing on Tuesday.”