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Rob Page can put Wales on track for the knock-out stages according to his old team-mate and lifelong friend John Hartson.

The pair of 46-year-olds have known each other over 30 years since playing for Wales schoolboys together.

Page and Hartson then moved to nearby Watford and Luton respectively at the start of their careers.

They would share train journeys to and from the rival clubs when commuting back home for international duty or to see their families.

Now Wales boss Page is the man tasked with trying to get the nation out of Group A at Euro 2020.

Their huge clash with Turkey is potentially decisive ahead of a tough trip to play Italy in Rome in their final game on Sunday after an opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

John Hartson during his Wales days
(Image: Reuters)

Page has only been in charge nine games since last November when Ryan Giggs was replaced after being arrested.

But Hartson, who also did his coaching badges with Page, believes his “stubborn” pal has the steel to ensure Wales handle the heat of Baku against the Turks.

Swansea-born Hartson, who won 51 caps, said: “We came through together me and Pagey.

"We were kids in the U13s-U15s for Wales schoolboys and then progressed all the way to the full national team.

“So we go back a long way.

“We are the same age and Robert was from a little village in Merthyr.

“I know his family and his dad very well and vice versa.

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“When we played our parents would stand on the touchline.

“Strangely enough we then went to Luton and Watford who are big rivals.

“We used to get the train up to Hertfordshire.

“He was always a leader on the pitch.

“He was very vociferous in terms of pointing the finger and giving orders.

“He was very determined and you knew he had a great chance of going places and standing out.

“He would grit his teeth and he was stubborn.

John Hartson is now a pundit and is working at the Euros
(Image: Getty)

“Sometimes you need that because when you cross that line you want to win and achieve and you have to be a little bit cynical.

“I thought Pagey could do that and that is probably why he was Graham Taylor's Watford captain.”

Page ended up captaining a team and scoring in all four divisions of English football during spells with the Hornets, Sheffield United, Cardiff, Coventry, Huddersfield and Chesterfield.

His managerial CV was less distinguished with Port Vale and Northampton.

John Hartson has confidence in Rob Page
(Image: McDonalds)

But the former defender, who won 41 international caps for Wales, has thrived since moving to the FAW in 2017 to become U21 coach.

Two years later he was promoted to Giggs' first team coaching staff and is now at the helm.

Hartson reflected: “He has gone through it the right way since we did our coaching badges together in Aberystwyth.

“He has got his opportunity now in unforeseen circumstances, it has come at him.

“But he has stayed very grounded and humble.

“I like the way he comes across.

“It is a bit different now and he has had to put his own stamp on things.

“But I am sure he is enjoying that pressure.

“It is a total different role being an assistant to being the manager.

“Assistant managers never get sacked because you are not really making the big decisions.

“But he has a great opportunity now to put his own stamp and philosophy on the team and the group.”

*Former Wales international John Hartson is calling on the grassroots football community to nominate their grassroots hero in the 2021 Welsh FA Grassroots Awards, presented by McDonald’s. There's still time to nominate now at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards.