Hal Robson-Kanu: West Brom forward has no regrets over Wales hiatus

Hal Robson-Kanu; ‘It feels like I’ve never been away’
Uefa Nations League: Finland v Wales
Venue: Helsinki Olympic Stadium Date: Thursday, 3 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, plus live text commentary and report on the BBC Sport website

West Brom forward Hal Robson-Kanu says he has no regrets about his decision to retire from international football after returning to the Wales squad.

Robson-Kanu revealed in January he was ready to play for Wales again, having quit in 2018 due to personal reasons.

Now the 31-year-old is in Ryan Giggs’ squad for this week’s Nations League matches against Finland and Bulgaria.

“No regrets, not at all. It was an important decision for me,” said Robson-Kanu.

“The demands and pressures outside football, sometimes you need to take a breath and put yourself into a good position. That’s what I’ve done.

“Now I’m really looking forward to being back with the boys and back in the red shirt.”

Robson-Kanu secured hero status with Wales at Euro 2016, scoring perhaps the most iconic goal in the nation’s footballing history when he struck with a divine turn and finish in the quarter-final win over Belgium.

But two years later he made himself unavailable for selection, citing family commitments and the mental and physical toll of spending time away with Wales as reasons for his decision, which seemed to revitalise Robson-Kanu at club level.

He scored 10 goals for West Brom as they secured promotion to the Premier League during the 2019-20 season, the first time in his career the former Reading forward had reached double-figures in a single campaign.

Although Robson-Kanu feels that form is vindication for his decision to retire from Wales duty, he admits he missed playing for his country as soon as he made himself unavailable.

“Probably the day after I retired,” he said.

“It was a decision I needed to make for me personally, to be in a position now where I feel good and feel ready to give my best to the nation again.

“Deep down I knew if I was ever in a position to return I would make myself available and it’s great to be back.”

Euro 2020: Relive Hal Robson Kanu’s goal against Belgium back in Euro 2016

‘Wales like family’

Robson-Kanu revealed to BBC Sport Wales in January that he had told Wales manager Giggs about his availability before the team secured qualification for Euro 2020 in November 2019, refuting any suggestions that playing in that competition was his incentive for returning.

Since then, the coronavirus pandemic means the Euros have been postponed until the summer of 2021, potentially giving Robson-Kanu a better chance of playing at his second major tournament.

“I think it’s given the whole group another year to progress,” he said.

“From my perspective, I’m just looking forward to being in the mix and showing what I’m capable of at international level.”

Despite his cult hero status among Welsh fans from his first seven years in…

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