Connor Roberts is set to win his 50th Wales cap after long journey to get to the top | The Sun
CONNOR ROBERTS 'hated' his life at Middlesbrough six years ago.
But the determined Burnley defender, 27, bounced back from those dark days to play in the Premier League and is set to win his 50th Wales cap against Latvia on Monday.
Before his Dragons debut, Roberts felt his career was going nowhere at Boro where he only played one EFL game before his season-long loan deal from Swansea was terminated in January 2018.
Roberts said: "There were many times at Middlesbrough where I laid on my bed on my own, miles away from family and thought, 'Maybe I'm not good enough to be a footballer'.
"I wasn’t playing and I was absolutely hating my life.
"Then a few months later I got called up by Wales, went to China and got on against Uruguay. It was surreal.
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"Now I sit here with nearly 50 caps for my country and no-one can ever take that away from me.
"When I was a young boy, I never thought I'd ever be a professional footballer, let alone play 50 times for my country.
"So I'm proud of myself and I hope my friends and family are proud of me too.
"The more times I can play and the more little triumphs I can have, the better it is."
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Roberts still excitedly messages wife Georgina as well as his parents to tell them about call-ups.
Since then, the versatile Clarets star has represented his country at Euro 2020 and last year's World Cup in Qatar – Wales' first global finals since 1958.
But Roberts, nicknamed the 'Crynant Cafu' for the energy he offers from full-back, insists he has more to give.
He added: "Every time I text my mum, dad and wife, and say, 'I got called up again.' They say, well, did you expect not to? But it's still a proud moment.
"It's still brilliant. When I started playing for Wales, since my second, third, fourth cap, I always wondered, ‘Imagine how incredible it would be to get 50 caps.’
“Now I’m here. I cherish every moment and I've had some unbelievable experiences – I've played at a World Cup, a Euros, scored a couple of goals and had a load of happy times in the Wales jersey.
"And, hopefully, that can continue for a couple of years, at least. I've experienced a lot in a short space of time.”
Wales must win in Latvia to keep their Euro 2024 dreams alive and ease the pressure on under-fire boss Robert Page.
The Dragons drew 0-0 with South Korea on Thursday night to extend their miserable run of form to one win in their 13 internationals.
They lost both qualifiers in June and Roberts said: "Monday is the big game as we all know June wasn't good enough.
"We were dreadful. We only have ourselves to blame for the poor results and performances.
"It was definitely one of the lowest periods in a Wales shirt. Against Armenia, we scored early and thought we'd cracked it. And we hadn't. There was a bit of naivety in us.
“We should have performed a lot better. The only way to make it good enough and put things right is to play well and win games.
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"There's a determination to not feel like we did after those previous two games.
"Now we must stand by our principles and never give up. I'll go out on Monday and give absolutely everything."
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