You can't affect what other people think,' reflected Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward yesterday, in the aftermath of his country qualifying for the last 16 of the Euros.
'That's something that was instilled in me from my childhood. People are going to have opinions and there's nothing really which epitomises that more than football. You've just got to keep believing in your own ability.'
He related this philosophy calmly, in the midst of a conversation about the squad enjoying the Italian coffee and the high quality of the tomato sauce that comes with the pasta in Rome.
Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward has been one of the picks of the Euro 2020 tournament so farInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Leicester 'keeper Ward has impressed with his aerial ability, communication and distribution
Ward's impressive tally of saves at Euro 2020
But there must have been many dark moments, these past few years, when the notion of being integral to Wales' progress in this tournament seemed utterly delusional.
It is approaching 1,500 days since the 27-year-old last started a club league game — for Huddersfield against Reading in the 2017 Championship play-off final.
It was the last game of a very strong season he'd had on loan from Liverpool but did not bring a breakthrough. He left Anfield a year later for Leicester, where Kasper Schmeichel has been a roadblock to his progress since.
The reassurance of those who know him best — his father Greig and his former Wrexham youth coach Joey Jones were two he mentioned yesterday — seems significant.
'My mindset has always been about being No 1,' he reflected. 'If you're sat on the bench you don't want to have a mindset of doubting yourself. That's why we all want to play football.'Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Positive thought is immaterial without the talent he has shown since displacing Wayne Hennessey in Wales' warm-up game against France.
Ward has repeatedly saved with feet and gloves, competed well aerially and displayed the calmness under pressure to gather hard, low shots through a forest of players.
He is a communicator and an excellent distributor. A flat 50-yard kick from his hands — one of his trademarks — was a main route to Kieffer Moore against the Swiss. In fact, there are strong grounds to argue that Ward is the pick of the tournament's