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Nickname(s) The Dragons
Association Football Association of Wales
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach John Toshack
Asst coach Roy Evans
Dean Saunders
Brian Flynn
David Williams
Captain Craig Bellamy
Most caps Neville Southall (92)
Top scorer Ian Rush (28)
Home stadium Millennium Stadium
FIFA ranking 77
Highest FIFA ranking 27 (August 1993)
Lowest FIFA ranking 113 (September 2000)
Elo ranking 59
Highest Elo ranking 3 (1876–1885)
Lowest Elo ranking 75 (September 2000)
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours
First international
 Scotland 4 – 0 Wales Wales
(Glasgow, Scotland; 26 March 1876)
Biggest win
Wales Wales 11 – 0 Ireland 
(Wrexham, Wales; 3 March 1888)
Biggest defeat
 Scotland 9 – 0 Wales Wales
(Glasgow, Scotland; 23 March 1878)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (First in 1958)
Best result Quarter-finals, 1958
European Championship
Appearances none
Best result Quarter-finals, 1976 (in Qualifying)

The Wales national football team represents Wales in international men's football. It is controlled by the Football Association of Wales, the governing body for football in Wales and the third oldest national football association in the world. The team has not qualified for a major international tournament since 1958, when it qualified for the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Wales did however progress through UEFA Euro 1976 qualifying to the Quarter-Final which was played on a home and away leg basis.

Although part of the United Kingdom, Wales has always had its own representative side that plays in all the major professional tournaments, though not in the Olympic Games as the IOC only recognises the United Kingdom.

Wales were placed in Group 4 for qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Germany, Russia, Finland, Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein.

Wales were placed in Group G for qualification for the Euro 2012 tournament alongside England, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Montenegro.



The early years

Wales played its first competitive match on 25 March 1876 against Scotland in Glasgow, making it the third oldest international football team in the world.

Although the Scots won the first fixture 4–0, a return match was planned in Wales the following year, and so it was that the first international football match on Welsh soil took place at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham on 5 March 1877. Scotland took the spoils winning 2–0.

Wales' first match against England came in 1879 – a 2–1 defeat at the Kennington Oval, London and in 1882 Wales faced Ireland for the first time, winning 7–1 in Wrexham.

The associations of the four Home Nations met in Manchester on 6 December 1882 to set down a set of worldwide rules. This meeting saw the establishment of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to approve changes to the rules, a task the four associations still perform to this day.

The 1883–84 season saw the formation of the British Home Championship, a tournament which was played annually between England, Scotland, Ireland[1] and Wales, until 1983–84. Wales were champions on 12 occasions, winning outright seven times whilst sharing the title five times.

The FAW became members of FIFA, world football's governing body, in 1906, but the relationship between FIFA and the British associations was fraught and the British nations withdrew from FIFA in 1928 in a dispute over payments to amateur players. As a result, Wales did not enter the first three World Cups.

In 1932 Wales played host to the Republic of Ireland, the first time they played against a side from outside the four home nations. A year later, Wales played a match outside the United Kingdom for the first time when they travelled to Paris to take on France in a match which was drawn 1–1.


Wales, along with the other four home nations, rejoined FIFA in 1946 and took part in the qualifying rounds for the 1950 World Cup, the 1949–50 Home Championships being designated as a qualifying group. The top two teams were to qualify for the finals in Brazil, but Wales finished bottom of the group.

The 1950s were undoubtedly a golden age for Welsh football with stars such as Ivor Allchurch, Alf Sherwood, Jack Kelsey and, of course, John Charles pulling on the famous red shirt and Wales made its only World Cup appearance in 1958. However, their qualification was fortunate to say the least. Having finished second to Czechoslovakia in qualifying Group 4, the Welsh thought their chances of appearing in Sweden were over. But the golden generation of Welsh football had reckoned without the politics of the Middle East.

Egypt and Sudan had refused to play against Israel whilst Indonesia had insisted on meeting Israel on neutral ground. As a result Israel were proclaimed winners of their respective group in the Asian/African zone.

FIFA were understandably reluctant to allow a team to qualify for the World Cup finals without actually playing a match and so lots were drawn of all the second placed teams in the UEFA qualifying groups. Belgium were drawn out of the hat but they refused and so then Wales was drawn and awarded a two-legged play-off match against Israel with a place in Sweden for the winners[2].

Having beaten Israel 2–0 at the Ramat Gan Stadium and 2–0 at Ninian Park, Cardiff, Wales went through to the World Cup Finals for the first and, so far, only time.

The strong Welsh squad made their mark in Sweden, drawing all the matches in their group against Hungary, Mexico, and Sweden before defeating the Hungarians in a play off match to reach the quarter-finals. There the Welsh lost 1–0 to eventual champions Brazil, with 17-year-old Pelé grabbing the only goal of the game for the South American side. However, Wales' chances of victory were hampered by the injury of John Charles.

The '70s and 80s

Wales have never qualified for the final stages of the European Championships since its inception in 1960. However, in 1976, they did reach the last eight of the competition, having finished top of qualifying group 2 ahead of Hungary, Austria and Luxembourg. Prior to 1980, only four countries qualified for the final stages of the competition, and Wales were drawn to play against the winners of group 3 Yugoslavia, in a two legged match. Wales lost the first leg 2–0 in Zagreb and were knocked out of the competition having only managed a 1–1 draw in the return leg at Ninian Park.

The following year, Wales defeated England on English soil for the first time in 42 years and secured their only victory to date at Wembley thanks to a Leighton James penalty. Another notable achievement came in 1980, as Wales tore England apart in one of the best performances ever witnessed by a Welsh side. Goals from Mickey Thomas, Ian Walsh, Leighton James and an own goal by Phil Thompson saw Wales thrash England 4–1 at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, just four days after England had beaten the then-world champions, Argentina.

In the 1982 World Cup qualifiers, Wales came extremely close to qualification, a 3–0 defeat against the USSR in their final game meant they missed out on goal difference.

Manchester United youngster Mark Hughes marked his debut for Wales by scoring the only goal of the game as England were defeated once again in 1984. The following season, Hughes was again on target, scoring a wonder goal as Wales thrashed Spain 3–0 at The Racecourse during qualification for Mexico 86.

1990s–present day

Wales came close, once again, to qualifying for a major championship when they came within a whisker of reaching the World Cup of 1994. Needing to win the final game of the group at home to Romania, Paul Bodin missed a penalty when the scores were level 1–1; Romania went on to win 2–1.

Following the failure to qualify, Terry Yorath's contract as manager of the national side was not renewed by the FAW and John Toshack, then manager of Real Sociedad, was appointed as a part-time manager. However, Toshack resigned after just one game — a 3–1 defeat to Norway — citing problems with the FAW as his reason for leaving, although he was sure to have been shocked at being booed off the pitch at Ninian Park by the Welsh fans still reeling from the dismissal of Yorath.[3] Mike Smith took the reins for the start of the Euro 96 qualifiers, which saw Wales slip to embarrassing defeats against Moldova and Georgia before Bobby Gould was appointed in June 1995.

Carl Fletcher, 2010 World Cup qualification.

Gould's time in charge of Wales is seen as a dark period by Welsh football fans. His questionable tactics and public fallings-out with players such as Nathan Blake,[4] Robbie Savage[5] and Mark Hughes, coupled with embarrassing defeats to club side Leyton Orient and a 7–1 thrashing by the Netherlands in 1996 did not make him a popular figure within Wales. Gould finally resigned following a 4–0 defeat to Italy in 1999, and the FAW turned to two legends of the national team, Neville Southall and Mark Hughes to take temporary charge of the game against Denmark four days later, with Hughes later being appointed on a permanent basis.

Under Hughes, Wales came close to qualifying for the European Championships in 2004, losing in the play-offs for a place in Portugal against Russia. The defeat, however, was not without its controversy as Russian midfield player, Yegor Titov, tested positive for the use of a banned substance after the first qualifying leg[6], a scoreless draw in Moscow. However, the sport's governing body decided to take no action against the Football Union of Russia other than instructing them not to play Titov again, and the Russian team went on to beat Wales in Cardiff 1–0 to qualify for Euro 2004.

Following a disappointing start to the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, Hughes left his role with the national team to take over as manager of Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League. John Toshack was appointed manager for the second time on 12 November 2004.

In the qualification for Euro 2008, Wales were drawn in Group D alongside Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and San Marino. The team's performance was disappointing, finishing fifth in the group with expected defeat at home to Germany yet an unexpected draw away, a loss away and a goalless draw at home to the Czech Republic, a loss away and 2–2 draw at home to the Republic of Ireland, a 3–0 home win and uninspiring 2–1 away win against minnows San Marino, a 3–1 home win and 3–1 away defeat against Cyprus, and a spectacularly mixed performance against Slovakia — losing 5–1 at home and winning 5–2 away. However, better performances towards the end of the competition by a team containing, of necessity because of injuries and suspensions of senior players, no fewer than five players who were eligible for selection for the Under-21 squad was viewed as a hopeful sign of future progress for the team.

In qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Wales made a promising start, winning 1–0 and 2-0 against Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein, respectively. However, they lost their next game against Russia in Moscow, 2-1, after Joe Ledley had briefly drawn them level. The qualifying campaign showed signs of promise when the team managed to prevent Germany from scoring for 74 minutes of their match in Mönchengladbach, but the match eventually finished 1–0 to Germany. Two 2–0 home defeats by Finland and Germany in Spring 2009 effectively put paid to Wales' hopes of qualification.

Wales have been drawn with Montenegro, Bulgaria, Switzerland and close rivals England for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers.


Current squad

Wales announced their 22-man squad for their friendly against Sweden, on 3 March 2010 at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

Caps, Goals, Ages and clubs are accurate as of the squad announcement on 26 February 2010.

No. Pos. Player DoB (Age) Caps Goals Club
GK Wayne Hennessey 24 January 1987 (23) 23 0 England Wolverhampton Wanderers
GK Boaz Myhill 9 November 1982 (27) 6 0 England Hull City
DF Chris Gunter 21 July 1989 (20) 20 0 England Nottingham Forest
DF Gareth Bale 16 July 1989 (20) 23 2 England Tottenham Hotspur
DF Craig Morgan 16 July 1985 (24) 18 0 England Peterborough United
DF Lewin Nyatanga 18 August 1988 (21) 31 0 England Bristol City
DF Neal Eardley 6 November 1988 (22) 13 0 England Blackpool
DF James Collins 23 August 1983 (26) 33 2 England Aston Villa
DF Ashley Williams 23 August 1984 (25) 18 0 Wales Swansea City
DF Sam Ricketts 11 October 1981 (28) 37 0 England Bolton Wanderers
MF Andy Dorman 1 May 1982 (27) 0 0 Scotland St. Mirren
MF Jack Collison 2 October 1988 (21) 6 0 England West Ham United
MF Andy King 29 October 1988 (21) 3 0 England Leicester City
MF David Cotterill 4 December 1987 (22) 15 0 Wales Swansea City
MF Andrew Crofts 29 May 1984 (25) 12 0 England Brighton & Hove Albion
MF David Vaughan 18 February 1983 (27) 11 2 England Blackpool
MF Simon Davies 23 October 1979 (30) 57 6 England Fulham
FW Simon Church 10 December 1988 (21) 6 1 England Reading
FW Robert Earnshaw 6 April 1981 (28) 47 14 England Nottingham Forest
FW Ched Evans 28 December 1988 (21) 11 2 England Sheffield United
FW Sam Vokes 21 October 1989 (20) 14 2 England Wolverhampton Wanderers

Recent call-ups

The following players have been called up for the last 12 months but were not named in the above squad list for various reasons.

No. Pos. Player DoB (Age) Caps Goals Club
GK Jason Brown 18 May 1982 (27) 2 0 England Blackburn Rovers
GK David Cornell 28 March 1991 (18) 0 0 Wales Swansea City
DF Adam Matthews 13 January 1992 (18) 0 0 Wales Cardiff City
DF Danny Gabbidon 8 August 1979 (30) 43 0 England West Ham United
MF Joe Ledley 21 January 1987 (23) 32 2 Wales Cardiff City
MF Joe Allen 14 March 1990 (19) 2 0 Wales Swansea City
MF David Edwards 3 February 1986 (24) 18 3 England Wolverhampton Wanderers
FW Jermaine Easter 15 January 1982 (28) 8 0 England Milton Keynes Dons
FW Craig Bellamy 13 July 1979 (30) 58 17 England Manchester City

Most-capped players

As of 4 March 2010,[7] the players with the most caps for Wales are:

# Name Career Caps Goals
1 Neville Southall 1982–1998 92 0
2 Gary Speed 1990–2004 85 7
3 Dean Saunders 1986–2001 75 22
4 Peter Nicholas 1979–1991 73 2
= Ian Rush 1980–1996 73 28
6 Mark Hughes 1984–1999 72 16
= Joey Jones 1975–1986 72 1
8 Ivor Allchurch 1950–1966 68 23
9 Brian Flynn 1974–1984 66 7
10 Andy Melville 1989–2004 65 3

50 Cap Club

In addition to the above players, the following have attained 50 caps (players still active in bold):

Top goalscorers

As of 4 March 2010 (players still active in bold):

# Name Goals Caps
1 Ian Rush 28 73
2 Trevor Ford 23 38
= Ivor Allchurch 23 68
4 Dean Saunders 22 75
5 Craig Bellamy 17 58
6 Cliff Jones 16 59
= Mark Hughes 16 72
8 John Charles 15 38
9 Robert Earnshaw 14 48
= John Hartson 14 51

Notable former players

See Category:Wales international footballers for all Welsh internationals with a Wikipedia article, and List of Wales international footballers for a list of Welsh internationals in sortable-table format.
Welsh Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Welsh inductees to the English Football Hall of Fame
Welsh inductees to the Football League 100 Legends
Welsh Inductee to the PFA Premiership Team of the Year


See also Category:Wales national football team managers

Prior to 1954 the Welsh team was chosen by a panel of selectors with the team captain fulfilling the role of coach.

Name Career
Wales Walley Barnes 1954–1955
Wales Jimmy Murphy 1956-1964
Wales Dave Bowen 1964–1974
Wales Ronnie Burgess 1965 (caretaker manager for one game due to unavailability of Dave Bowen)
England Mike Smith 1974–1979
Wales Mike England 1979–1987
Wales Terry Yorath 1988–1993
Wales John Toshack 1994
England Mike Smith 1994–1995
England Bobby Gould 1995–1999
Wales Mark Hughes 1999–2004
Wales John Toshack 2004–present

Other staff

  • Goalkeeping Coach: Paul Jones
  • Team Doctors: Dr. Mark Ridgewell & Dr. Mark Davies
  • Physiotherapists: Mel Pejic & Dyfri Owen
  • Masseur: David Rowe

Competition history

World Cup record

World Cup record
Year Round Position GP W D* L GS GA
Uruguay 1930 Did not enter
Italy 1934 Did not enter
France 1938 Did not enter
Brazil 1950 Did not qualify
Switzerland 1954 Did not qualify
Sweden 1958 Quarter-finals 7/16 5 1 3 1 4 4
Chile 1962 Did not qualify
England 1966 Did not qualify
Mexico 1970 Did not qualify
West Germany 1974 Did not qualify
Argentina 1978 Did not qualify
Spain 1982 Did not qualify
Mexico 1986 Did not qualify
Italy 1990 Did not qualify
United States 1994 Did not qualify
France 1998 Did not qualify
South KoreaJapan 2002 Did not qualify
Germany 2006 Did not qualify
South Africa 2010 Did not qualify
Total 1/19 1 Quarter-final 5 1 3 1 4 4
* Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

UEFA European Football Championship record

  • 1960Did not enter
  • 1964-1970 – Did not qualify
  • 1976 - Quarter-Final (played on home and away leg basis)
  • 1980-2008 – Did not qualify


Wales play most of their home matches at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. The stadium was built in 1999 on the site of the old National Stadium, known as Cardiff Arms Park, as the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) had been chosen to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Prior to 1989, Wales played their home games at the grounds of Cardiff City, Swansea City and Wrexham, but then came to an agreement with the WRU to use Cardiff Arms Park and, subsequently, the Millennium Stadium.

Wales' first football match at the Millennium Stadium was against Finland on 29 March 2000. The Finns won the match 2–1, with Jari Litmanen becoming the first player to score a goal at the stadium. Ryan Giggs scored Wales' goal in the match, becoming the first Welshman to score at the stadium.

In recent seasons, a handful of friendly home matches have been played away from the Millennium Stadium at Swansea's Liberty Stadium and Wrexham's Racecourse Ground. However, with little recent success on the field, the 74,500 capacity Millennium stadium has only been around 20–40% full, leading to calls for some international matches to be held at Cardiff City Stadium, the Liberty Stadium and the Racecourse Ground with capacities of 15,500-27,000. On 14 November 2009 Wales played their first international game at the Cardiff City Stadium when they hosted Scotland, in a friendly attended by 13,844 - almost exactly half the stadium's capacity.

See also


  1. ^ History of the Irish FA at
  2. ^ Qualification for 1958 World Cup at RSSSF
  3. ^ John Toshack profile at BBC Sport Online
  4. ^ Gould in racist row with Blake at Socialist Review
  5. ^ Wales reprieve for Savage at BBC Sport Online
  6. ^ Wales consider Euro 2004 appeal at BBC Sport Online
  7. ^ Alpuin, Luis Fernando Passo (20 February 2009). "Wales - Record International Players". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 

External links

Simple English

Association Football Association of Wales
Confederation UEFA
Coach John Toshack
Most caps Neville Southall (92)
Top scorer Ian Rush (28)
World Cup
Appearances 1
First Apps 1958
Best result Quarterfinals (1958)

Wales national football team is the national football team of Wales.


Most appearances

1Neville Southall9201982-1997
2Gary Speed8571990-2004
3Dean Saunders75221986-2001
4Ian Rush73281980-1996
4Peter Nicholas7321979-1991
6Mark Hughes72161984-1999
6Joey Jones7211975-1986
8Ivor Allchurch68231950-1966
9Brian Flynn6671974-1984
10Andy Melville6531989-2004

Top scorers

1Ian Rush28731980-1996
2Ivor Allchurch23681950-1966
2Trevor Ford2338
4Dean Saunders22751986-2001
5Mark Hughes16721984-1999
5Cliff Jones1659
5Craig Bellamy1654
8John Charles1538
9John Hartson1451
10Robert Earnshaw1339


Prior to 1954 the Welsh team was chosen by a panel of selectors with the team captain fulfilling the role of coach.

Name Career
Walley Barnes 1954–1955
Jimmy Murphy 1956-1964
Dave Bowen 1964–1974
Ronnie Burgess 1965 (caretaker manager for one game due to unavailability of Dave Bowen)
Mike Smith 1974–1979
Mike England 1979–1987
Terry Yorath 1988–1993
John Toshack 1994
Mike Smith 1994–1995
Bobby Gould 1995–1999
Mark Hughes 1999–2004
John Toshack 2004–present

Other staff

  • Goalkeeping Coach: Paul Jones
  • Team Doctors: Dr. Mark Ridgewell & Dr. Mark Davies
  • Physiotherapists: Mel Pejic & Dyfri Owen
  • Masseur: David Rowe

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