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Former Wales goalkeeper, Neville Southall and current Wales Women midfielder, Natasha Harding, have chosen their all-time greatest Wales team and Ian Rush didn’t even make the cut!
During the EatSleepFootyRepeat Christmas party, hosted by Brains at the Yard Bar and Kitchen in Cardiff, both Southall and Harding were tasked with the job of selecting their best XI, which included both past and present players.
Whilst fans who attended the event put forward their votes for each respected position, there was a debate surrounding a few of the inclusions.
Southall and Harding’s greatest Wales XI:
Goalkeeper – Neville Southall
Even though he wasn’t even his own first pick, on account of never having seen himself play, big Nev was overruled and installed as the greatest ‘keeper Wales has ever had.
A reliable figure in between the sticks, Southall made 92 appearances for his country and is currently the highest capped male player. That is until Chris Gunter smashes it at some point in the next couple of years!
Centre-back – Sophie Ingle
Ingle is currently the captain of the women’s team, although she is perhaps one of the lesser known players to be selected in Southall and Harding’s XI.
A star for Liverpool ladies, Ingle’s also earned more than half a century of caps for Wales and is the lynchpin of a Wales defence which hasn’t conceded so far in their World Cup qualifying campaign and sees them top of the group, currently above England.
Harding put up a tough defence of Ingle’s selection, kind of like the woman herself.
Centre-back – Ashley Williams
‘Captain Fantastic’ – the name that the reliable Williams currently goes by after guiding Wales to the semi-final of the European Championships in 2016.
He took over the captaincy from Aaron Ramsey in 2012, and has become a leader both on and off the field.
Playing on with a bad shoulder injury in the last 16 round against Northern Ireland and equalising against Belgium in the very next game, Williams epitomises Wales’s approach in this current era.
Centre-back – Kevin Ratcliffe
Former Everton and Wales captain, Ratcliffe was another reliable defender who made 59 appearances for his country during his 15-year career.
The time he also spent with Southall during his days with the Toffees is perhaps why he is so highly thought of by the former ‘keeper.
Right-midfield – Leighton James
James made 54 appearances for Wales from 1971-1983 and managed 10 goals.
A talented midfielder who wasn’t afraid to take defenders on, he went on to make over 300 appearances for Burnley.
Centre-midfield – Joe Allen
One of the shining stars in Wales’ heroics at Euro 2016, Allen has become a reliable source in the middle of the park.
His incredible work rate is perhaps why he earns plaudits from fans, as well as his pinpoint passing which can unlock any given defence.
The only mysteries around Joe Allen is how he is so consistently underrated by so many in the game, and how Swansea didn’t snap him up for a second time when they had the chance. Oh for some Joe Allen magic in that Swans midfield around now!
Centre-midfield – Jess Fishlock
Currently earning her trade with Melbourne City in Australia, Fishlock became the first Wales (male or female) player to reach the 100-cap mark.
She marked her 100th appearance in fine style with a wonder goal against Northern Ireland in April last year.
Rated as one of the best midfield players in women’s European football Jess is tenacious, dynamic and works tirelessly at the heart of the Wales engine room.
There was little argument against her inclusion.
Left-midfield – Gary Speed
The 85-capped Speed was another player who played alongside Southall for both club and country.
A reliable versatile-midfielder, he was a professional both on and off the field during his playing and managerial career.
Taken from us far too soon, Speed is a poignant inclusion in the all-time top XI.
Right-wing – Ryan Giggs
One of the more controversial inclusions on the night, although there’s no questioning the talent that the 64-capped Giggs had during his playing days.
He has confirmed his interest in becoming Wales’ new manager and could be set to follow in the footsteps of Chris Coleman.
Centre-forward – John Charles
‘The Gentle Giant’ – the nickname Charles was given, having never received a booking during his playing career.
He was a part of Wales’ 1958 World Cup heroics and has often been dubbed as one of the greatest all-rounded footballers.
The only bone of contention around his selection was whether it was at centre back or in attack.
Left-wing – Gareth Bale
Bale played a huge role in Wales’ Euro 2016 success and netted their first goal of the competition against Slovakia in Bordeaux.
He joined Real Madrid for a fee of £85million in 2013 and is currently ranked fourth in the list of most expensive transfers.
WTF, no Rush?
Mainly because of the formation chosen by Tash and Nev. 3-4-3 lends itself to two attacking wide forwards which left one central striker slot. It was Rush and against big John Charles. A tough call in anyone’s book.
Nailed it? Not impressed? Take a look at the show to hear Tash and Nev’s reasoning and comment below with your own ideas.
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