After this, all superlatives are redundant. The match was so good only a range of meaningless noises will suffice; things like wow, eek, aargh, ooh, cor, woof, screamingabdabs, marymotherofgod and buggermebackwardswithafiftyfootbargepole…

It was a wonderful reminder of why football is the greatest sport of all, and why I first fell in love with it as a kid. Here was the beautiful game in all its thrilling majesty, drama and sheer poetry. Live theatre, improvised non-stop in real-time with no script and with an infinity of unknown and unknowable possible outcomes. And for Gareth Bale, in the context of a game as crucial as this, to come up with not one but two goals of such surreal, extraordinary magnificence, accompanied by an ecstatic Cardiff crowd singing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Yma o Hyd in three part harmony…well, as I said, all superlatives are redundant.

In his 101st appearance, Captain Bale’s 37th and 38th goals for Cymru both featured a footie phenomenon anyone who has played the game at any level from Sunday League recreational amateurism upwards will have witnessed or even experienced: that moment when the stars align and everything spontaneously comes together, unbidden and unrehearsed, to produce some kind of magic. In my case, a goal I scored in the 1970s in lowly London Sunday League soccer is carved into my memory. In pouring rain on the Wandsworth Park mudbath beside the Thames in Putney, I received the ball on the right wing near the half-way line, cut inside a couple of lunging tackles and with my weaker left foot from fully 30 yards out pinged in a ballistic missile of a shot that smashed into the net off the underside of the crossbar with their goalie a spectator. I had never hit a shot like that previously – with either foot – and never did again. The power and precision had an effortless quality that can only be explained by the perfect timing achieved when you somehow find the legendary sweet spot, so rare and elusive for mere mortals – but for Gareth Bale virtually available to summon up just when he and Cymru need it most.

Words cannot do justice to the astonishing combination of accuracy, misdirection and venom of his 25th minute free-kick or the spectacular intent of his seamless control, swivel, 90° turn and breathtaking finish in the 50th minute. All that needs saying at this juncture is that we won 2-1*, we are one win away from our first World Cup in SIXTY-FOUR years and now, on a Monday afternoon four days later, my Scotch whisky hangover-to-end-all-hangovers has almost abated!

And so, we go through to the play-off final against either Scotland (omg) or, yes indeed, Ukraine, postponed until June because, of all things, WW3. Did I ever mention that you couldn’t make this stuff up…?

Head-to-head v Austria now stands at P11, W4, D2, L5, Goals F11-A13