Tom Bradshaw never gave up on his Wales dream despite spending five years in the international wilderness.
Bradshaw is back in the Wales squad at the age of 30 for the opening Euro 2024 qualifiers against Croatia and Latvia after being named February’s EFL Championship player of the month.
The Millwall striker has scored seven goals in eight games to fire the Lions’ play-off push.
“The last time I was involved was a long time ago, I was a different player and a different person,” said Bradshaw, who won the last of his three caps at the China Cup in March 2018.
“I wasn’t a dad back then, and now I’ve got a four-year-old daughter.
“A lot of things have changed since I was last involved and I feel like I’ve evolved as a player and as a person.
“I wouldn’t say it (playing for Wales) was in the forefront of my mind every year because it had been a while.
“But you always think that if you play well and consistently enough, there’s a chance.
“It was something I wanted to achieve, to get back in the Wales squad and try and make an impact for my country.”
Bradshaw was in former manager Chris Coleman’s provisional squad for Euro 2016 but his hopes of performing in France were ruined when he suffered a calf injury at Wales’ pre-tournament camp in Portugal.
He said: “I can remember going for the MRI scan and you kind of know if you have an injury. But once it was confirmed it was devastating.
“I went out to America and, even though the time difference was tricky, I made sure I watched every game.
“It was an incredible watch as a fan to see them get as far as they did (semi-finals), but as a player who potentially missed out through injury it was a tough one to take.
“I don’t look back on it with regret because you can’t do much with injuries in football, but it adds extra driving force to get back involved.”
Wales start their Euro 2024 qualifiers against World Cup semi-finalists Croatia in Split on Saturday before hosting Latvia in Cardiff three days later.
Bradshaw joined up with Rob Page’s squad having scored 14 times this term, his best campaign in front of goal since scoring 20 for Walsall in 2015-16.
“I want to take my club form into this camp and into these games,” said Bradshaw.
“Any player will tell you that when they’re feeling confident, you’re not overthinking anything.
“You’re just enjoying your football, and that’s what I want to bring to this camp.”
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