Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wales Greatest All-Time 23 member team

Wales at Euro 2016
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team,
IrelandNorthern Ireland,
United Kingdom.

Wales has one of the oldest Football Associations in the world.  However, Wales never figured much in international football.  In 1958, they qualified for the World Cup Finals in Sweden after a playoff game against Israel.  Cliff Jones, Alf Sherwood, Jack Kelsey, Ronnie Burgess and John Charles were some the greatest ever players from Wales. They drew Hungary, the host Sweden and Mexico, and advanced to next round before Brazil sent them home with goal by a 17 year old Pele.  In the 1980's, Wales again had a Golden Generation.  However, while Neville Southall, Ian Rush and Mark Hughes starred in the English league, Wales failed to achieve much as a national team. In 2016, Wakes made a strong run at Euro 2016, reaching the semi-final.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be 23 players I would bring to the tournament.
Wales 1958
GK: Neville Southall 
Neville Southall was the FWA Football of the Year in 1985 and one of the few keepers to win the award.  He was regarded as one of the best British keeper of his generation in a generation filled with great keepers.  He started with Bury, but played most of his career with Everton, where the club was enjoying its most successful period. He won two First Divison title and two FA Cup with them.  He had 92 caps for Wales.
Neville Southall
GK:  Jack Kelsey
Kelsey had 41 caps for Wales.  He was Wales' keeper at the World Cup Finals in 1958, their only finals appearance to date. They were eventually knocked out 1–0 by winners Brazil in the quarter-finals..  He spent his entire career with Arsenal.  He played over 300 games for Arsenal from 1949 to 1963.  He became their starter in the 1953-1954 season. However, he went trophyless during his time there.

GK:  Dai Davies
Dai Davis made 52 appearances for the Wales national football team between 1975 and 1982. ,For club football, he played for Everton, Wrexham, Tranmere Rovers and three spells at Swansea City.  He was a youth product of Swansea, where he played with Giorgio Chinaglia before he was spotted by Everton. He signed with Everton in 1970.

RB: Peter Rodrigues
Peter Rodrigues was best remembered as the captain of Southampton's 1976 FA Cup winning team.  He also played for Cardiff City, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday before joining Southampton in 1975 where he only played for two seasons. The majority of his career was spent with Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesda.  He also played in Leicester City's losing 1969 FA Cup final, He was capped 40 times.

RB/LB:  Stuart Williams
Stuart Williams was a member of the 1958 World Cup team that left a big impression on Pele.  He aso played as a striker in the beginning of his career.  He played his club football for Wrexham, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton.  As of April 2012 he is WBA's most capped international, having earned 33 of his Welsh caps whilst with Albion.

CB/ST: John Charles
John Charles was the greatest Welsh player.  He was equally adept at centre-forward or centre-back.  He was all-time great with Leeds United, but this best part of career was with Juventus. He was Serie A's top scorer with 28 goals, and was voted player of the season as Juventus won the Scudetto. He played in Turin for five years, scoring 93 goals in 155 matches, winning the scudetto (Italian league championship) three times, and the Italian Cup twice. He was 3rd in the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) in 1959. He was never booked in his entire career.
John Charles
CB/ST/RB: Mel Charles
Mel Charles was John Charles' brother.  Liked his brother, he could play at both centre-back and centre-forward.  He was never booked in his career.  He went to play in the 1958 WC Finals.  He started with Leeds United, but made a name with Swansea.   He spent seven years in the Second Division with the club, before moving to Arsenal in 1959. The transfer fees was the highest ever transfer between two British clubs at that time.

CB Mike England
At Spurs, Mike England won the inaugural 1972 UEFA Cup Final and was runner up in the same competition 2 years later; his goal in the first leg of the 1974 final unable to win the cup a second time for Spurs.  He also played for Blackburn Rovers, Seattle Sounders (USA) and Cardiff City.  He was capped 44 times and was also the youngest Welsh captain at one point. He also played as a center forward.

CB Kevin Ratcliffte
Kevin Ratcliffte was the captain of Everton during its golden era in the 1980's.  He won two English League titles, one FA Cup and another Cup Winners' Cup. In 1991, he went to Dundee and then played for a short spells with Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Chester City. Ratcliffe was capped 59 times by Wales, often as captain. Wales never qualified for a major tournament while he was active. 
Kevin Ratcliffte
LB: Joey Jones
With Wrexham, Jones made his debut at the age of 17 in 1971.  In 1975, he joined Liverpool. He was a part of the Liverpool dynasty in the late 1970's.  He became the first Welshman to receive a European Cup winner medal in 1977.  He won his second the following season.  He also played for Wrexham for another spell and then, Chelsea.  He was capped 72 times.

CM: Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey made his senior debut for Wales at the age of 17.  He was made captain at the age of 20, the youngest ever. He was a part of Wales' team that made to the semifinal of the European Championship in 2016, where he was included in the Team of the Tournament. He also represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.  At the club level, Ramsey started his career with Cardiff in 2006, but made his name with Arsenal when he joined in 2008. In 20919, he joined Juventus.
Aaron Ramsey
CM: Terry Yorath
Terry Yorath was a member of Don Revie's Leeds United.  He became the first Welsh player to play in an European Cup Final when Leeds United reached the Final in 1975, but losing to Bayern Munich.  He also appeared in the 1973 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final, which Leeds lost in controversial circumstances to AC Milan.  He also represented Coventry City, Tottenham Hotspur, Bradford City and Swansea City.  He earned 59 caps, often as captain.

CM/RB: Ron Burgess
Ron Burgess was a miner before becoming a footballer. He spent majority of his career with Tottenham Hotspurs.  He was the captain of Tottenham Hotspurs' League champion team in 1951. Burgess joined Swansea Town in 1954 as a player and played until 1956, taking over as manager of Swansea Town from 1955 to 1958. For Wales, he played 32 times and was the captain.

AM/LW: Gary Speed
Gary Speed played for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United.  At one point, he held the record for the most appearances in the Premier League until David James surpassed by David James.  He was best remembered for winning the English league title in 1992 with Leeds United.  He made the PFA Team of the year in 1993. From 19988 to 2004, he played for Newcastle United. He was capped 85 times for Wales and served as the captain.

Jones was the best left winger in the world during the eraly 1960's. He won the Double with Tottenham in 1961-1962.  He also won the 1963 Cup Winners' Cup. He also played for Swansea and Fulham.  He played 59 times in all for Wales, scoring 16 goals. He went to play at the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden. He also was the hero of Wales' 1955 victory over England.

Giggs was Sir Alex's longest serving player at Manchester United, where he played from 1990 to 2014.  He also holds the club record for competitive appearances. During his time at United, he won 13 Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals and two Champions League winner's medals. He is widely considered one of the greatest British wingers in modern history. He played 64 times for Wales.  He led Great Britain at the London Olypmpics in 2012.
Ryan Giggs
RW:  Billy Meredith
Billy Meredith was a legendary player for both Manchester City and Manchester United. He was probably the greatest right winger in Manchester United's history, where he played between 1906 and 1921.  He was the oldest ever Manchester United player ever played. He gained 48 caps for Wales, for whom he scored 11 goals and won two British Home Championship titles. 

RW/LW:  Gareth Bale
Bale began his professional career at Southampton. Bale moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007. In 2011 and 2013, he was named PFA Players' Player of the Year.  His transfer to Real Madrid in 2013 was believed to be the most expensive in history.  He won four Champions League title with Real Madrid.  He scored the winning goal in the 2014 and the 2018 versions. In 2016, he led Wales to reach the semifinal of Euro 2016.
Gareth Bale
FW: Ivor Allchurch
Known as 'The Golden Boy' of Welsh football, Ivor Allchurch played for Swansea Town, Newcastle United and Cardiff City, where he played 691 games and scored 249 goals. He was a star for Wales at the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden, where Wales reached the quarter final.  He was at one point of the cap record holder and all-time leading scorer for Wales. His record of 68 caps for Wales stood until 1986. His brother Len also played for Wales.
Ivor Allchurch

ST: Mark Hughes 
Mark Hughes was best remembered for his spells with Manchester United. He won two Premier League title medals, four FA Cups, three League Cups and two European Cup Winners' Cups. He was the first player to win the PFA Players' Player of the Year award twice, in 1989 and 1991.  He also played for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, as well as the English clubs Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and finally Blackburn Rovers.

ST:  John Toshack
John Toshack started with Cardiff and joined Liverpool in 1970. At Liverpool, he formed a great partnership with Kevin Keegan. He won the First Division in 1973, 1976 and 1977, the FA Cup in 1974, and the UEFA Cup in 1973 and 1976. In 1978, he joined Swansea as a player-manager.  He led the club to jump from 4th divsion to 1st division in 3 years. He earned 40 caps with Wales between 1969 and 1980.
John Toshack
ST: Trevor Ford
Trevor Ford became the most expensive British player in 1950 when he moved from Aston Villa to Sunderland.  He also played for Swansea, Cardiff City and PSV Eindhoven. He was capped 38 times for Wales, becoming their all-time joint aggregate goal scorer with 23 goals. He was overlooked for the 1958 World Cup team because he was serving a suspension.

ST: Ian Rush
Ian Rush was voted as the third greatest Liverpool player by fans in 2013. He is the Liverpool's all-time leading goalscorer, with 346 goals. He won both the PFA Player of the year and FWA Player of the Year in 1984.  he was European Golden Boot winner in the same year.  He also had short spells with Chester City, Juventus, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Wrexham and Sydney Olympic. Rush made 73 appearances for Wales between 1980 and 1996.
Ian Rush

Honorable Mention
Dean Saunders, Rod Thomas, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Hennesse, Joe Allan, Hal Robson-Kanu, Dave Bowen, John Hartson,

Squad Explanation 
--  John Charles, Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs, Gareth Bale, Neville Southall and Billy Meredith are automatic selections.  No need to explain. John Toshack, Kevin Ratcliffte, Mark Hughes and Mel Charles are close to automatic selections.
-- Wales' 2016 European Champion's run was their greatest moment since the World Cup Finals of 1958.  However, most of the key players played in the lower tiers of the English league. It is difficult to include some of the heros of Euro 2016 when they were up against of the old-timers who were famous club players at their own time. Wayne Hennessey, Joe Allan and Hal Robson-Kanu are added to the honorable mention, based on that run.  Only Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale made it to the team.
-- Wales qualified the World Cup Finals once. John Charles, Mel Charles, Stuart Williams, Jack Kelsey, Ivor Allchurch and Cliff Jones were on that team.  Trevor Ford was overlooked for the team.
-- Ryan Giggs is probably the greatest Manchester United player under Sir Alex.  John Charles is the greatest import for Juventus.
-- Gareth Bale led Wales to the semifinal of Euro 2016. It was Wales' best finishes in a major tournament. He is also the most decorated player in club football, winning more Champions' League titles than any Welsh players.
-- It was between Dean Saunders, Craig Bellamy and Trevor Ford for the last attacker on the team. Saunders is famous among the younger fans, but Ford is the all-time leading scorer for Wales.  It is hard to believe that Saunders did not make the team.
-- Before I started my research, I actually put Dean Saunders on my "very likely" list. alongside Mark Hughes and John Toshack. Both Hughes and Toshack had slightly better club careers than Saunders. Saunders' career was tarneshed for his failure to settle down with Liverpool.  He was a high profile transfer, but ended up playing one season for Liverpool. His partnership there with Ian Rush was not a successful according an interview by Saunders.
-- I took Ford because he was at one point Wales' all-time leading scorer. He also failed to settle down with Sunderland.
-- I dropped Roy Paul for Mel Charles.
-- I only brought one leftback. I have Bale and Williams who could also play there.  Rod Thomas would have been my backup left back. He is on my honorable mention.
-- I selected Ramsey because the team lacks a playmaker. Besides, he deserved a spot for his contribution at Euro 2016.
-- Terry Yorath as the manager of Wales had a team consisted of Neville Southall and Kevin Ratcliffte at the back while the front three were Mark Hughes, Ian Rush and Dean Saunders. They beat Germany in a qualifier for Euro 1992.  Ryan Giggs later made his debut in another qualifier. In 1993, they narrowly failed to qualify for USA 1994 by missing a penalty against Romania.

Starting lineup
Formation: 4-4-2
  • I used a classic British 4-4-2 formation.  Bale could become the greatest, but Meredith is just too good to be unseated at this point.
  • I nearly put John Charles on the defense and started Allchurch upfront.


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