As we all know, Wales has spawned many incredible professional footballers over the years. But who are the greatest Welsh footballers of all time? Here is our selection of the top five.
Born in Caerphilly in 1990, Aaron Ramsey began playing football for Cardiff City while he was still a schoolboy. He then became the club’s youngest ever player for the first team.
Ramsey currently plays for Juventus and the Wales national team. He made his debut for the latter in 2008. In 2016, the all-round midfielder was a crucial part of Wales reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro. Ramsey also represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.
Ian Rush, MBE, will always be most remembered in league football for his time at Liverpool. The St Asaph-born Welshman played for the club from 1980 to 1987 and from 1988 to 1996. Rush is the club’s all-time leading goal scorer, with 346. Rush also made 73 appearances with the Wales national team, and until 2018, he held the record for the most goals scored for Wales, having scored 28 goals between 1980 and 1996.
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Gary Speed was born in the village of Mancot in North Flintshire in 1969, and he grew up in nearby Aston. He was interested in football from an early age, playing for the local boys’ team Flintshire Schoolboys. Speed began his professional footballing career with Leeds in 1988. In 1992, he helped the club win the English First Division Championship. Speed was also, of course, captain of the Wales national team for a brief time in 2011. He sadly died via suicide in the same year. Until Chris Gunter overtook in 2018, Gary Speed was the most-capped Welsh outfield player ever, with 85 caps. He will always be dearly remembered as one of the greatest Welsh footballers of all time.
The current manager of the Wales national team needs no introduction. After making his international debut at the young age of 17, Ryan Giggs instantly became a national treasure.
Giggs played his entire league football career for Manchester United, and he is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballing talents of all time. The Canton-born winger is also one of the most decorated footballers of all time. His many accolades include winning the Welsh Footballer of the Year award in 1996 and 2006. Giggsy represented his country 64 times between 1991 and 2007. And in both 1996 and 2009, he won the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year Award.
Cardiffian Gareth Bale, who currently plays as a winger for Tottenham Hotspur on loan from Real Madrid, is unquestionably a national icon in Wales. He made his debut senior appearance for the Wales national team in 2006, at the age of 16 years and 315 days, making him the youngest player to ever play for Wales. Since then, he has earned over 80 caps and scored 33 international goals, making him the highest goal scorer of all time for Wales.
Gareth Bale has been named Welsh Footballer of the Year a record-breaking six times, and in 2016, ESPN ranked Bale twelfth on its World’s Most Famous Athletes list. With his renowned ball striking and defender-swerving abilities, Gareth Bale looks set to continue his incredible career for quite some time yet.