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      Who are the greatest Welsh footballers of all time?

    The steady influx of world-class footballing talent emerging from Wales has slowly over the years made the country as renowned for football as it is rugby. In particular, Gareth Bale’s explosion onto the international football scene has brought Wales more global attention than anything the rugby team has ever managed to do before.

    But it isn’t just Bale and it hasn’t just been over the last decade that Wales has been exporting some of the finest footballers to have ever played the game to the continent. In fact, if you have to go back to the late 1950s, you’ll find that was when the Welsh football conveyor belt first began to pick up pace.

    John Charles
    All you need to do to get a sense of how revered John Charles is in Turin is to walk around the Allianz Arena on match day and ask the Juventus fans about the legacy that the gentle giant left at the club. You will be met with an outpouring of enthusiasm and affection for Charles and it’s easy to see why. Over the course of his five years with Juventus, Charles managed to win three Italian league titles and the Golden Boot in his first season abroad after scoring 28 goals. Charles would eventually score 108 goals in 155 appearances for Juventus before moving back to Leeds United in 1962 to cement his place in the West Yorkshire club’s history.
    Indeed, it was at Elland Road where Charles first shot to prominence in world football as he enjoyed the most productive spell of his illustrious career. The towering centre forward netted 167 times in 297 appearances which earned the striker the honour of having the West Stand at Elland Road named after him. Born in Swansea in 1931, John Charles was one of the absolute greatest of Welsh football.

    Aaron Ramsey
    Aaron Ramsey, born in Caerphilly, has in some respects walked a similar road to that of the legendary John Charles. Indeed, the midfielder enjoyed great success in England’s top-flight before heading to Italy. The midfielder won three FA Cups with Arsenal over the course of an eight-year stay at the Emirates but in 2019, Ramsey took flight from north London and like Charles, arrived in Turin as he put pen to paper on a four year deal with Juventus. Ramsey hit the ground running in Italy and in just 24 months, the 30-year-old has won both the Scudetto and the Italian Super Cup.

    Although it does now appear that the Welshman has joined Juventus at a time when there is a seismic shift underway with regards to the status quo of Italian football. The Old Lady looks set not to win the Italian league for the first time since 2012 - that is at least what a list of the best UK bookmakers suggests. Indeed, UK betting sites are among the best in the world thanks to an open, well-established market that provides punters with the most up to date odds. And having been priced across the board at 66/1 to win the Scudetto this season, it seems as if these bookmakers, who offer a huge range of markets on sports like football, are convinced that Ramsey and Juve will miss out this season.

    Ryan Giggs
    The current Welsh boss enjoyed a glittering career with Manchester United, winning 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies, and four League and FA Cups apiece. It is an astonishing record that defies belief and crucially, it was Ryan Giggs' sensational ability that was a driving force behind United’s domination over twenty years. The speed at which the winger ran down the flank made Giggs one the most dangerous players in the whole of Europe. Indeed, there was genuine fear amongst the defenders of the opposition when Giggs got the ball, which is why the Manchester United fans would sing ‘Giggs will tear you apart again’, whenever the Welsh wizard was in possession.

    Gareth Bale
    Gareth Bale has been one of the best footballers of the 21st century. The 31-year-old Cardiff-born winger is without a doubt a global sensation and his worldwide stardom has catapulted Welsh sport into the stratosphere. Simply put, there is no greater honour for a player from the United Kingdom than becoming one of Real Madrid's famed galacticos, and, during the early years of Bales' stay in the Spanish capital, he didn’t let the grass grow under his feet. Indeed, the winger won four Champions League titles, two La Liga trophies, two Spanish Super Cup trophies and one Spanish Cup.

    Towards the end of Bales' stay at Madrid, the club appeared to grow sick of the Welshman after a falling out with manager Zinedine Zidane. The 31-year-old subsequently moved back to Tottenham Hotspur in 2020, the club he won the League Cup with during the 2007/2008 season.
    Whatever happens in Bales’ career from here on in, there can be no doubt whatsoever that he is the greatest footballer, and perhaps even sportsman to have ever represented Wales.

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    Posted: Tuesday 27th April 2021
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