Some of the league’s best players have come from the hills and valleys, and popped over the broder to join English clubs. So in celebration of the day, here’s 5 of the best Welsh players, who keep a welcome in the hillsides for English clubs…
Ryan Giggs – There’s a bit of an urban myth about Giggs, that he could have played for England but chose Wales. In fact, Giggs only wore the 3 Lions at schoolboy level and that was due to his residence. Contary to popular belief, Giggs never had the opportunity to play for England.
Born in Cardiff, the Manchester United winger moved to Manchester when he was 7. An absolute legend, Giggs has been playing at the top level for 20 years and has scored in every Premiership campaign. He’s won 2 Champions Leagues, 4 FA Cups, 4 League Cups and 11 League titles…..so far!
Gary Speed – The current head coach of the Welsh football team, Speed was born not far from the England-Wales border in the county of Flintshire. He’s represented Wales 85 times, more than any other outfield player. Few people appreciate how good Speed was.
As Bobby Robson once said of the centre-midfielder ‘Where are you going to find another player with a head and a left foot, like him?’ Speed played for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton and is currently the manager of Sheffield United. Gary holds the record for Premiership appearances, with 500 to his name.
Craig Bellamy – Welsh football’s enfant-terrible! Currently plying his trade at hometown club Cardiff City, Bellamy has courted controversy throughout his career. Only today he’s been cautioned by police for assaulting 2 men in Cardiff City Centre.
Then there’s his arguments with Newcastle first team coach John Carver, texts to Alan Shearer, very public disagreements with Graeme Souness and a certain incident in a Portugese karaoke bar that involved a golf club and John Arne Riise’s legs. Bellamy has been at 8 clubs in 14 years, and has scored over 100 goals.
Neville Southall – Believe it or not, but Big Nev was once the best goalkeeper in the world at one point. Born in Llandudno he played for a number of Welsh Premier League clubs including Bangor City, but really made his name at Everton were he made 578 appearances.
Famed for his bulky frame, and a handsome moustache, Southall started his footballing career quite late on in life. One of his first jobs was as a bin man. He still makes regular appearances for the Everton masters and from what I’ve seen could probably still cut it (at Welsh Premier League level….and yes, I’ve seen some of their matches!)
Robbie Savage – Twitter star, radio personality and writer (sometime footballer) Robbie Savage is another one of Wales’ ‘Golden Generation’. Universally hated by opposing fans, you have to admit that in his heyday you’d have wanted Savage in your midfield.
Born in Wrexham, Savage has never really lost his Welsh roots and was today greeting all his twitter followers with a Happy St. David’s day. See, he’s not that bad a bloke! Having played for Leicester City, Blackburn and Birmingham, Savage is planning to hang up his boots at the end of the season and concentrate on his media profile.
Who’ve I missed out? Mark Hughes? Chris Coleman? Aaron Ramsey? Gareth Bale? Vinnie Jones? It’s surprising how many quality footballers have come from Wales, and yet they don’t seem to perform at international level. Probably because they all seem to come at completely different times!
Stay tuned, because later this month we’ll have our Top 5 Irish players, on St. Patrick’s Day….ah, who am I kidding? You’ll be too drunk to read it!
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