Welsh football players, who made an impact on the national team and club history

Ian Rush by By Jarvin

Ian Rush (Image by Jarvin – CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8609526)

Welsh football history knows a lot of success stories, as much as legendary players. Gareth Bale shows a way for everyone in the country how to become the record goalscorer for the national team while jointly with Wayne Hennessey competing for most caps with Chris Gunter.

There are enough players besides them who honoured Wales on the international level. Here are some of the best-known athletes.


Ian Rush

Place in history

Famous Liverpool forward of the 80s and first half of the 90s, all-time goalscorer with 346 goals. Won the English Championship and the League Cup five times with Merseyside, three times UEFA Cup and twice UEFA Champions League. The big tournament is resumed after the winter pause, and Welsh fans have a target to support, as Garreth Bale still competes for the cup with Real Madrid. He’s already a legend with 4 titles, but this one might make him even with Cristiano Ronaldo, who currently holds the record. Most bookmakers from the list of https://bookmaker-ratings.com/ accept bets on Real Madrid as a winner of the Champions League with 16/1 odds.

Bale, though, never reached some of Rush heights. According to professionals and the press, Ian is the best English footballer of the championship in the 1983-84 season, European Golden Boot winner. Liverpool’s top scorer for nine seasons, holder of the Order of the British Empire.


Interesting facts

There has been a life-sized plastic rhinoceros painted to resemble the forward at the entrance to the Chester Stadium. In this club, Rush started his playing career and then began and finished his coaching career, since 2010, with his football uniform, cleats and famous moustache.

Rush has long been (and still is) credited with a funny phrase that referred to his unsuccessful season at Juventus, where he spent a year “as if in a foreign country.” According to the striker’s autobiography, he never said that, and Kenny Dalglish coined the phrase for laughs.


Gary Speed

Place in history

One of the record holders of the English Premier League, second only to David James and Ryan Giggs in several games played, as he spent 12 years at Leeds. He won the First Division title in 1992, which was transformed into the Premier League the following season. He spent six years at Newcastle, played in the Champions League and reached the FA Cup final twice. He captained the Welsh national team and long held the record for most outfield matches (85), and was later made head coach of Wales. He became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2010.


Interesting facts

When Gary was a schoolboy, he showed more promise as a cricketer than a footballer.

The most painful memory of Speed’s career, he says, was losing to Wales against Romania in 1993. Had the Welsh team won, they would have gone to the World Cup for the first time since 1958. In a 1-1 draw at Cardiff City, Paul Bodin’s penalty corner hit the crossbar, and one of his greatest regrets was that he had not converted it himself.

Gary Speed: “Ideally, I’d like to win more trophies. I’ve got the English title with Leeds, and we were second division champions a few years earlier, and won the Charity Shield. But I’ve often ended up with a place in the final: twice in the FA Cup with Newcastle, in the Intertoto Cup with them and the League Cup with Bolton. Being one step away from winning and losing is more frustrating than being knocked out in the early stages.”


Neville Southall

Place in history

One of the best goalkeepers in the world in the 80s and 90s (top-10 goalscorers in FIFA history and statistics), a record for Wales (92) and Everton in the English league (578), Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Together with Everton, he has won the English league title and the FA Cup twice and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985. In December 2004, fans of the Merseyside club acknowledged Southall as an iconic footballer of all time.

Interesting facts

Southall took a long time to make his way to the professionals: he worked as a scavenger, a waiter, a porter, and started his career relatively late, at the age of 26. In 2012, he wrote a well-received autobiography called “The Binman Chronicles”, in memory of those days. Southall did not drink alcohol at all, was constantly working on improving his game and read a lot of specialist literature.

In the first game of the 1990-91 season, Southall stayed on the pitch at half-time and sat at the bar for 15 minutes instead of listening to coach Colin Harvey’s warning in the changing room. “I was thinking about the fact that I had had a disgusting first half (Everton were losing 0-2) and wanted to clear my head, that’s all,” he said afterwards. However, the club’s management deemed it a protest and fined the goalkeeper two weeks’ wages. Shortly after the episode, Southall received a call from Alex Ferguson with an exciting offer, but the Welshman’s impolite replies, to put it mildly, led the Manchester United head coach to lean towards Peter Schmeichel.