THOUSANDS of people across Newport will be glued to their television screens for Wales’ titanic tussle with England on Thursday - but for the family of one hometown boy, it’s set to be an extra special occasion.

Defender James Collins, who has won 47 caps for his country, is likely to be among the substitutes for the big game in Lens.

Half of the 32-year-old’s family, including his mother, Kay, brother, Josh, and wife, Samantha, will be making the trip, while his father, Brian, will be among those watching at home on Queens Hill.

Following Wales’ historic 2-1 win over Slovakia, 58 years after their last tournament appearance, Mrs Collins said her son told her the team now want to “seize the moment”.

She said: “It’s been very exciting and we’re looking forward to Thursday now. Every time he puts on a Welsh shirt, we’re proud as punch.

“Chris Coleman and James have got a great rapport and even though James is not starting, he’s a great bloke to have around the team.

“He’s funny and lifts their spirits and I think it’s good for the young boys.”

Collins’ football career began at Shaftesbury FC and Pill AFC before he was accepted into Spytty Park’s legendary school of excellence.

By the age of 15, he had been snapped up by Cardiff City, but according to his father, Brian, 69, it was only during a kickabout on a family holiday in west Wales that he realised just how talented his son was.

He said: “We started kicking the football around and I kicked it to him and without thinking, he kicked it into the air and it landed on his head, then he kicked it onto his chest and his knees until he got bored.

“That was the first thing that opened my eyes.

“It seems like just a couple of years ago we were running him all along Wales to Wrexham and Aberystwyth with the under-14 schoolboys. It’s flown by all too quickly.”

The former St Joseph’s pupil signed professional forms with Cardiff City at the age of 17 in 2000, before going on to make 369 appearances for the Bluebirds, Aston Villa and his current club, West Ham.

Although Mr Collins admits that moment “changed our lives”, he says the family have never forgotten their roots.

He said: “We always instilled that into him and he still comes down here. We’ve lived in the same house for 35 years and brought up the kids here.

“He’s the same in his own life when he’s away in London - he’s very much a family man.

“We’re very, very much the same as we’ve always been. I’m too old to change.”

Such has been the family’ commitment to the Wales cause in fact, one of Collins’ three sisters, Olivia, 28, said she scheduled her wedding for after the tournament so her brother could attend.

“We are all so proud of him,” she added. “I’m proud of all my brothers and sisters but we have always been supportive of James with his career.

“It’s just really exciting for him to be part of making history with Wales.”