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The Top 5 Welsh Players of the Past?

As far as football is concerned, Wales is seen as a small nation that has only managed to qualify for the World Cup once, and has never won any type of key trophy at the European level. However, Wales has also produced plenty of world-class players, and this guest article suggests a possible Top 5 from previous eras. Where history will judge the members of the Euro2016 semi-finalists to rank in such lists remains to be seen...

5. Gary Speed
Gary Speed played for Wales at youth level, earning three caps for the under-21 squad. He then went on to appear 85 times for Wales, which makes him the second highest-capped player after Neville Southall, also on this list, and Speed also captained the Welsh team on 44 occasions.

4. Neville Southall
Southall was famous for his ability to stop shots, especially in one-on-one situations, coming quickly off his line and intimidating the onrushing forward, as Southall relied on his instincts to save the ball. He was known to spend hours browsing books on boxing and golf to keep improving his spring and balance, and focussed on making minor improvements to his kit pieces and behaviour in an effort to keep enhancing how he played.

3. John Charles

John Charles is widely held to be one of the best Welsh footballers in history, and stands as an adaptable player who was able to assume the roles of both centre-back and centre-forward. A prolific scorer of goals, if playing today Charles would have been a favourite with punters at the sports betting NZ sites and those around the world that allow for wagering online, and he was very fast, despite his size. In addition to his extraordinary ability on the field, he was also famous for his good behaviour on the pitch, which, along with his stature, earned him the nickname Il Gigante Buono, or The Gentle Giant.

2. Ian Rush
Ian James Rush, MBE, is a now-retired Welsh professional football that played forward. At the international level, Rush made a total of 73 appearances for the national team of Wales, and stands as the record goal scorer for his country, managing a total of 28 between the years 1980 and 1996. His sports performance remains one that many other players try their hardest to emulate as he was incredibly successful on the field.

1. Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs is one of the most decorated football players in the history of the game. He was born to Welsh parents in Cardiff, and represented Wales at international level. As a youth, Giggs captained the England Schoolboys team, but, contrary to widely held belief, he was not eligible to play for the full English team. This is because eligibility at that level relied on the school's location, and Giggs' Moorside High was situated in Salford.

In October of 2009, new rules were introduced for the Home Nations' associations that would have allowed Giggs to represent the English had he not already played for Wales at senior level. He always maintained, however, that he would never have done so, stating in 2002 that he would, in fact, have opted to never appear in a major championship rather than do so for a country that wasn't Wales.

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