Football Legends of Wales: Part 2
Welcome to Part 2 of Darwin Escapes’ Welsh Football Legends!
Here we outline the careers of 5 more footballing legends from Wales, if you missed part 1 of this legendary line up, click here.
Ian Rush was born in St. Asaph in 1961, he is Liverpool’s all-time leading goal scorer, with 346 goals in all competitions. Rush played 660 times for Liverpool and has 73 caps for Wales, boasting 28 international goals.
Rush was signed from Chester in 1980 for £300,000 – but was initially disappointed and asked for a transfer as he felt he wasn’t getting a fair chance to play under Bob Paisley. Rush made his debut for Liverpool on 13 December 1980, waiting 9 games to get his debut goal for the first team.
In 1983/84 Rush scored 50 goals in all competitions and was the first Brit to win the European Golden Boot, in the same season he won the League Title, European Cup and the League/Milk Cup. 1986 was also a memorable year, with Rush scoring 2 against Everton in the FA Cup Final. After returning from Juventus, Rush scored another 2 against Everton in the 1989 FA Cup final. He became Liverpool’s all time top goal scorer in 1992.
Perhaps his most memorable goal for his national side, was the winner against reigning world champions at the time, Germany. He netted the winner in the second half, whilst Neville Southall’s legendary reflexes kept the German’s from equalising at the other end of the pitch.
His trophy cabinet boasts medals from:
- 5 First Division Championships
- 3 FA Cups
- 5 League Cups
- 2 European Cups
- 1 Europe’s Golden Boot
- PFA Young Player of the Year
- PFA Players’ Player of the Year
His accolades include:
- Record FA Cup Final goal scorer – 5 goals
- 2nd highest FA Cup goal scorer (highest in the 20th century with 44 goals)
- Record goal scorer for Wales national team – 28 goals
- Record Liverpool FC goal scorer with 346 goals
- Record scorer in the Merseyside derby games – 25 goals
It’s fair to say that Ian Rush scored a lot of goals for both Liverpool and Wales.
Leslie Mark Hughes was born in 1963 in Wrexham, North Wales. In 1980 he signed as a professional with Manchester United.
Hughes also played for Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers but is best known for his time as a player at Manchester United. Hughes was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He was the Welsh national team manager from 1999 until 2004, and has since held managerial positions at Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR and Stoke City.
Hughes was known for scoring spectacular goals, particularly volleys – rarely did he score a tap in. Stand out Hughes’ goals for Man Utd include his winner against Barcelona (he also scored the other goal in a 2-1 victory), his volley against Oldham in the FA Cup’s 1994 semi final and his 100th league goal against Crystal Palace that helped clinch the club’s first ever Premiership title.
As a player Mark Hughes won:
- 2 Premier League titles
- 3 FA Cups
- 3 Football League Cups
- 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
- 1 UEFA Super Cup
- 1 PFA Young Player of the Year
- 2 PFA Players’ Player of the Year
– 163 goals in 467 appearances for Manchester United
John Hartson played for a number of top clubs in England, and perhaps most notably for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League. A throwback in his playing style, Hartson could bully defenders and use his presence, size and strength to create goal scoring opportunities, his battling style and character made him a fan favourite at clubs such as Celtic, as well as for the Welsh national side.
Born in Swansea in 1975, he joined Luton Town’s Youth Training Scheme at 16, eventually making his first team debut in August 1993, his aerial power and strength as a target-man helped Luton to reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 1993/94.
He was signed by George Graham, at Arsenal in 1995, scoring his debut goal in his second appearance against Coventry. He scored 14 goals in 53 games for Arsenal, before being sold to West Ham United in 1997, he then joined Wimbledon in 1999 as the club’s most expensive signing ever, but his spell at the club was greatly hindered by injury.
Hartson joined Coventry City before moving to Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, winning the Scottish PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award and the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year Award in 2005. Many pundits were shocked at Hartson’s signing for £6m, expecting the Welshman to play mainly as a substitute, with Larsson and Sutton expected to start most matches.
Notable goals for Hartson whilst at Celtic included his goal away against Barcelona in the Champions League, which helped the side earn an important draw. In the UEFA Cup he scored a long range, powerful goal against Liverpool, to secure a place in the next round of the competition. Celtic eventually finished runners up, losing the cup final in extra time to Porto. This was the club’s best performance in European football since they were runners up in the 1969/70 season in the European cup.
For the national team, Hartson has 51 first team caps for Wales, scoring 14 goals – making him the 9th top scorer of all time. Off the pitch he has appeared as a TV football pundit on several channels, including S4C’s Sgorio. In 2009 Hartson was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which had spread to his brain, he responded remarkably well to treatment and it was reported that by December 2009 cancer had been virtually eradicated from his body.
A centre-back in his teens, at his best, Neville Southall was regarded as the greatest goalkeeper in the world. During the 1980s he became a legendary player at Everton, and won the FWA Footballer of the Year Award in 1985, being one of only four goalkeepers to win the award.
Having played at a semi-professional and amateur level – famously holding down a job as a binman (and also a hod carrier) – the goalkeeper joined Bury in 1980, turning professional in his early 20s.
He moved to Everton in 1981 and spent the rest of his professional career at the club, until he retired in 1997. It wasn’t all plain sailing at the club, Southall was dropped in favour of Jim Arnold in the 1982/83 season and he spent January and February of 1983 on loan.
Arnold was the first choice goalkeeper at the start of the 1983/84 season, but Southall was recalled in October, going on to become the foundation of the legendary Everton team of the mid to late 1980s. The 1983/84 season was pivotal for Everton and Howard Kendall, with two impressive cup runs laying the foundation for later success. Southall was attributed as keeping Everton in the FA Cup competition that season, with outstanding games against Gillingham in a fourth round replay and in the semi final against Southampton.
Surprisingly, Southall initially struggled to appear for the national side, until manager Dai Davies retired – having preferred to start with Mike England in the No. 1 jersey. He made his international debut at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham on the 27th May 1982.
He made 747 appearances for Everton and 897 English Football League appearances in total. He made a number of notable saves on the way to winning league titles, including his important parry of Mark Falco of Spurs’ close range header. Spurs were also in title contention that season, and the outstanding save by Southall is often described as the moment that effectively sealed the league title for the toffees.
Despite the status of that save against Tottenham, in his autobiography “The Binman Chronicles” Southall remained modest about the save:
“It was straight at me…”
John Toshack is well known as a football manager. He had two spells as the national side’s manager and is credited by many for putting together the ‘long term plan’ that resulted in Wales’ success at Euro 2016.
He had an astonishing record as manager of Swansea City, taking them from the Fourth Division to the First Division in just four seasons. He was also regarded as a successful manager in the La Liga, where he managed Real Madrid on two separate occasions.
As a player, Toshack was regarded as a world-class target-man. He made his football debut as a 16 year old for Cardiff City in 1965. He managed to score in the side’s 3-1 victory and was the club’s youngest ever player at the time. “Tosh” signed for Liverpool in 1970 and became a fan-favourite almost instantly, as he thumped home a towering header to level the score in the Merseyside derby against Everton.
At 6ft 1 and possessing an outstanding ability to win headers, Toshack formed a formidable partnership with the fast and skilful Kevin Keegan – with them nicknamed as “Batman and Robin” by Shoot Magazine.
Despite missing 20 league games thanks to a thigh injury, he finished Liverpool’s top scorer in the league, scoring 13 important goals to help Liverpool secure the league title in the 1972/73 season. He was also instrumental in the UEFA Cup final victory in the same season, coming off the bench to set up 2 goals for Kevin Keegan in the first leg.
Toshack enjoyed arguably his most successful season for Liverpool in 1975/76. Free from injury he scored 16 times in 35 games, helping Liverpool secure a record ninth First Division league title.
As a player he won:
- 6 Welsh FA Cups (3 as player-manager)
- 3 League Titles
- 1 European Cup
- 2 UEFA Cups
There are so many to name and unfortunately, we can’t pay tribute to all the legendary Welsh football players in these 2 blog posts! Other football players of note include:
- John Charles
- Chris Coleman
- Craig Bellamy
- Ivor Allchurch
- Cliff Jones
- Kevin Ratcliffe
- Dean Saunders
- Billy Meredith
- Brian Flynn
- Terry Yorath
- Mickey Thomas
- Joey Jones
- Mike England
- The whole Euro 2016 squad!
And that’s our list of Welsh football legends, each talented and proud of their exceptional heritage. Darwin Escapes has four handpicked locations along the North Wales Coastline, making us the perfect place to base yourself on your holiday to explore this beautiful region. Or if you’ve been thinking about holiday home ownership, Darwin Escapes offers 2 owners exclusive locations, why not contact our friendly Ownership Team on 01745858010, or talk to an adviser via our live chat service and find out more!
Are there any legends we haven’t mentioned? Is your favourite on our list?