Harry Wilson has hailed the “courage and bravery” of Neco Williams for playing in the opening game of the World Cup in Wales on Monday following the death of his grandfather.
Williams’ grandfather died on Sunday and the Nottingham Forest full-back shared the sad news on social media after playing in Wales’ 1-1 draw with the United States.
“Yesterday was the most difficult news I have ever had to deal with and I listened to my mother tell me that my grandfather passed away last night,” Williams wrote on Monday evening, dedicating the game and pointing to his late grandfather.
“Going from crying all day to starting a World Cup match was extremely difficult, but I got through it thanks to the support of my team-mates and my family.”
Wilson is particularly close to Williams, having been with him at Liverpool and Fulham. The pair helped the Cottagers enter the Premier League last season during the latter’s loan spell at Craven Cottage.
“Neco showed a lot of courage and bravery to play the game,” Wilson said.
“Everyone knows that losing a family member is never easy. To make it happen on the eve of their very first World Cup game…and to put on a performance like that too, I have thought it was fantastic.
“The guys walked around him and tried to make him as comfortable as possible.
“He was very emotional after receiving the news less than 24 hours before the game, but I thought his performance was excellent.”
Wales will face Iran on Friday before concluding their group matches against England on Tuesday.
Joe Allen trained with the full squad on Wednesday as he looks to get fit in time after being out for two months with hamstring damage.
Kieffer Moore is likely to lead Wales’ attack after his half-time introduction against the United led to a vastly improved second-half performance and ultimately Gareth Bale’s equalizer from the penalty spot .
Wilson said: “The game was perfect for Kieffer to come on at halftime. He gave us this platform to build on and play with.
“The next game could be perfect for DJ (Daniel James) or Brennan (Johnson). We are lucky with the attackers we have.
“I would say it’s a game to win now after starting with a solid point.
“Now that we have that point on the board, we go into Friday’s game to get the win. Hopefully we will do that and then focus on the game against England.
Iran’s opener – a 6-2 loss to England on Monday – came amid political tension in the country and anti-government protests following the death of Mahsa Amini.
The 22-year-old had been arrested by police in the capital, Tehran, for allegedly failing to adhere to the country’s strict Islamic dress code.
Iranian players remained silent during their country’s national anthem ahead of the match against England, an action seen as solidarity with those who are being abused, jailed and killed as they protest for gender equality in the country.
Wilson said: “We are aware of the things that are happening there and we support them.
“But as far as the match is concerned, we will only focus on the footballing side.”