Standing with 150 compatriots in the stifling Bulgarian summer heat I watched in shock and amazement as Freddy Eastwood unleashed a rasping shot from the edge of the area.
I think I was as surprised as the goalkeeper to see the debutant look up, pick his spot and have a dig. Wales under Toshack were so cautious at times you felt the players were under strict instructions not to score unless they passed it into the net, so when first-time-Freddy picked the ball up and ran at goal I was already in shock but when the ball hit the back of the net there was a collective intake of breath in our corner of the ground before delight took over.
The one thing you can give Toshack credit for was his choice in friendly destinations; he was forever ready to pack us off to a holiday destination, whether it was Cyprus, Montenegro or Bulgaria. So the numbers in the Wales enclosure were bolstered heavily by English tourists who had made the short trip from the Sunny Beach resort. I can remember the curious looks on their faces as Wales’ fans celebrated wildly after a rare away goal against top class opposition.
Looking back on that fantastic night in Burgas ahead of tomorrow’s game against Bulgaria you can’t help but ask isn’t it time for Freddy Eastwood to re-emerge as part of the national set up? With injuries ruling out Earnshaw and Bellamy tomorrow’s encounter would have been a fitting chance to stake his claim in the red jersey once again.
But Flynn has been denied Eastwood’s proven quality and has instead handed Ryan Doble of Southampton the chance to gain some experience with the Wales first team squad. Flynn’s knack for judging a player’s potential is unquestionable and Flynn knows more than anyone what Doble is capable of producing.
However, Flynn is supposed to be setting about fusing potential and experience to get Wales some much needed results in the here and now.
Eastwood’s opening day brace which gave Coventry three points from relegated Portsmouth must have caught the eye of Toshack, Flynn and anyone with an interest in Welsh football. So it was disappointing for both club and country that Eastwood has been sidelined.
Flynn should heed the disappointed words of Eastwood’s club manager Aidy Boothroyd, he told the Coventry Telegraph, “It’s disappointing because he did really well at the start of the season and I have been really impressed with him. His work-rate, attitude and willingness to chase lost causes has really impressed me and that’s why I definitely want him on the bus to be part of what we are trying to do here.”
That’s proof that Eastwood is still a footballer with a lot to offer Wales and at only 26 he could make a sustained contribution over the next three campaigns if he is given the chance.
It’s a real shame that Eastwood isn’t fit and ready to re-ignite his international career in what could have been a fairytale reunion with Bulgaria, unfortunately for him and Wales supporters there is rarely a fairytale ending.
Eastwood still remains a valuable commodity for Wales and when he is back to full fitness Flynn should have no hesitation on recalling him to the setup. As for tomorrow, maybe it’s Ryan Doble who is destined to provide the enthusiasm and cheek to grab a vital goal.