The Dragons began their international career at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow, succumbing to a 4-0 defeat to the Scottish in March 1876. The following 140 years have brought little to ignite the global footballing stage, although recent successes point to a tentative hope for the future.
Throughout their long history, Wales have been involved in just one World Cup and one European Championship. The former took place during the Golden Age for Welsh football, when legends such as Ivor Allchurch and John Charles battled through the group stages to land their nation a quarter final place against Brazil. A first ever goal from a young striker named Pele broke Welsh hearts and dashed the hopes of budding glory. The Dragons went one step further in the 2016 UEFA Euros, dispatching Northern Ireland and Belgium in the knockouts before yielding to the Portuguese in the semi-finals.
Despite the Welsh team’s lack of success, the nation has enjoyed its fair share of talent, birthing such footballing greats as Alf Sherwood, the aforementioned Ivor Allchurch and John Charles, Ian Rush, Gary Speed, Ryan Giggs and Mark Hughes. Goalkeeping hero Neville Southall also deserves credit as the most capped Welsh player of all time, amassing an incredible 92 appearances for his home country.
Modern Welsh Stars
Presently managed by Chris Coleman, today’s national squad includes a variety of Premier League idols, including Tottenham’s left back Ben Davies, centre back stalwart and captain Ashley Williams, Stoke’s combative midfielder Joe Allen, Arsenal’s influential Aaron Ramsey, and of course, Real Madrid’s superstar Gareth Bale. Commencing his career at Southampton, the Cardiff born talent moved to a more advanced role at Spurs and caught the eye with his dribbling ability, hold up play and thumping long range goals. Real Madrid eventually came knocking and paid £85 million for his services. In March, 2018 Bale became Wales’ all-time top scorer with 29 goals.