So often in the shadows of rugby as the national game, football in Wales has once again shown its power to capture the imagination. A country that has produced so much individual skill has begun to light up the game as a team – helped in part by the welcome return of Welsh club sides to the upper divisions of the English football league. A passionate fan base and a magnificent home venue, in the shape of the Millennium Stadium, have helped to raise the game’s profile and finally give it the platform it deserves. So why not take a look at our selection of Wales tickets on StubHub!
Welsh football – a proud history
With matches between the United Kingdom’s teams now a relative rarity, it’s easy to forget some of Welsh football’s finest moments. Wales won the British Home Championship a total of 12 times, taking seven outright titles in all. For many years, qualification to the 1958 World Cup remained an isolated success – memorable for a match against Brazil in which Pele scored his first international goal.
Talented Welsh footballers have starred on the game’s biggest stage. Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes was a dynamic midfield presence, winning domestic league and cup honours with Manchester United. Ian Rush’s prolific scoring helped the Liverpool of the 1980s to build a dynasty of success. And Gareth Bale’s scintillating individual skill has delighted home crowds in North London and Madrid. However, John Charles remains the player against whom other Welsh internationals are judged. A superb all-round footballer with an eye for goal and a reputation for sportsmanship, he played in four different decades and remains a legend for Leeds United and Juventus.
Nothing in recent Welsh sporting history compares to the team’s run in the 2016 European Championships. Qualification alone was considered a triumph, but more was to follow. Goals from Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu secured a victory in the opening pool game against Slovakia, and Russia were not only beaten but outclassed in a fluent and stylish performance, in which midfield playmakers like Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey brought their top-level club form to the international stage. Although trademark free-kicks from Bale proved vital, it was clear that the whole team had more to offer.
The quarter finals saw Wales facing a Belgian team packed with gifted playmakers. Despite going a goal down, the Dragons battled back and equalised through their captain Ashley Williams. The game’s highlight was still to come. Robson-Kanu surprised even himself with an instinctive Cruyff turn and fired past keeper Courtois. Even to fans now used to witnessing the impossible, this was something new.