Welsh International Football

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The Football Association of Wales (FAW) was formed in 1876 in response to a challenge issued by the Scottish Football Association.

This first ever encounter for a Wesh national team ended in a 4-0 defeat against the Scots in Glasgow. The defeat was a sign of things to come!

Poor Relations

Wales, along with Northern Ireland, have always been the poor relations of British football.

This was never more obvious than when the Auld Enemy; England and Scotland, decided that the Home International Championship1, staged annually since 1883/843, had outlived its usefulness as Wales and Northern Ireland were not providing a stern enough opposition.

In an ironic twist, Northern Ireland won the last ever Home Championship and Wales finished second.

Welsh Footballing Milestones

  • Most Caps - Neville Southall (92)
  • Top Goalscorer - Ian Rush (28)
  • Oldest International Player - Billy Meredith v. England, 1920 (45 years 229 days)
  • Youngest International Player - Ryan Green v. Malta, 1998 (17 years 226 days)

Famous Victories

Wales' finest hour came during the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, the only occasion to date where Wales have qualified for the finals of a major tournament - although Euro 2004 in Portugal looms large on the horizon ;).

Even back in 1958 qualification wasn't done the easy way as Wales squeezed in to the competition through the back door with a play-off victory over Israel.

Israel who were in the Arab-Asia qualifying group alongside Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt and Sudan were entered into a play-off by FIFA4 following the refusal of the Arab countries to play the Israelis.

Rather than allow Israel to qualify for the tournament without playing a single game FIFA ordered a draw take place between every second placed team in the European qualifiers for the right to play-off against Israel, with a place in the World Cup Finals at stake, and Wales were the lucky nation to get a second bite at the World Cup cherry.

Wales went on to surprise everybody by reaching the quarter finals where they lost 1-0 to the eventual world champions; Brazil5.

The Welsh team in 1958 included some of the all-time Welsh greats; John Charles and his brother, Mel, Ivor Allchurch and Cliff Jones.

Another famous victory, which will live in the memory for a long time to come was Wales' 4-1 victory over England in 1980.

This match was Wales manager, Mike England's first match in charge and goals from Mickey Thomas, Ian Walsh, Leighton James and an English own-goal secured a memorable victory for Wales.

The most recent famous victory came in the Milenium Stadium on October 16th, 2002 when Wales defeated the mighty Azzuri.

Italy travelled to Cardiff as overwhelming favourites, but there was a quiet confidence in Wales and, in front of 73,000 fans the Welsh won 2-1 thanks to goals from Simon Davies and Craig Bellamy.

Painful Defeats

1977 - The Joe Jordan Affair.

Wales needed a victory against Scotland in the last qualifying game to secure a place in the World Cup Finals in Argentina.

The game was played at a neutral Anfield, Liverpool.6

The referee awarded the Scots a penalty for handball against a Welsh player, when the offence had so obviously been comitted by Joe Jordan7.

Wales eventually lost the game 2-0, and Welsh fans have never forgiven Jordan or, to some extent, the Scots

1An annual round-robin tournament involving the national football teams of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland2.2Originally involved the national team of all-Ireland until 1929 when the newly formed Irish republic formed their own football association.3Apart from the war years4Fédération Internationale de Football Association, based in Zurich, Switzerland5The goal was scored by a 17 year old Edson Arantes di Nascimento, who became known throughout the world as Pelé6Having been forced to move the game outside Cardiff because of crowd trouble, the FAW made a decision to forfeit home advantage at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground in order to make some money by playing the match at a larger stadium7Jordan ran away from the incident kissing his fist

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