Euro 2016: Wales' Belarusian fan travels from New York

Alex Zyl

One Wales supporter has spent £2,000 (US $2,936) and travelled 3,500 miles (5,600km) following the team in France for Euro 2016 - despite not even being Welsh.

Alex Zyl, 35, originally of Belarus, began following the team after befriending Wales fans 16 years ago in his country's capital, Minsk.

Mr Zyl, who now lives in the United States, travelled from New York to watch Wales' 3-0 win against Russia in Toulouse on Monday.

He said Wales fans were "always friendly and always fun".

Mr Zyl said: "For a long time Wales got so many defeats, they didn't qualify for any major tournaments.

"This is the first time they have qualified and they make real progress.

"It's fantastic - top of the league, that's why I like Wales."

Chris Coleman's team now face Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday after topping group B and making the last 16.

Mr Zyl said the 3-0 win in Toulouse was "doubly special" for him, given his own native land's rivalry with Russia.

And the Welsh travelling contingent is full of supporters who have covered large amounts of ground to make it to France.

'Worth every penny'

Lee Griffiths, originally of Bridgend, also flew from the US to watch Wales' opening group game against Slovakia in Bordeaux on 11 June.

He said he had not wanted to miss the "biggest day in Welsh football history".

And Mike Lambert, 60, originally of Cardiff, made the trip to France from Thailand, where he has lived for two years.

He said there was a "huge amount of expense" and a 13-hour flight but the trip would be "worth every penny".

He first watched Wales play against England at Cardiff's Ninian park in 1970 - a 1-1 draw.

"I had the bug and since then I have seen them play in Andorra and Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Belgium, Croatia and Cyprus, Scotland and Serbia and many many more," added Mr Lambert, who lives in Thailand's Isaan region.

Some reports have suggested Saturday's fixture will see up to 50,000 fans travelling to Paris.

And should they win that match, there could be a chance for fans to clock up more miles. While one possible last eight match will take place in Paris the other will be in Lille.

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