Have you heard the one about the three Welsh teams in the Premier League? Swansea, Cardiff and Gareth Bale.
Tottenham have often been accused of being too reliant on their prize asset, but Bale isn’t the first man to venture out of the Valleys and light up the English game.
10 – Robbie Savage
Savage may not have been the most popular midfielder among fans of the game. In fact, the Wrexham-born chopper became a hate figure, predominantly known for his crunching tackles and his relationship with the referee’s card book. However, he was only actually ever sent off twice throughout his whole career.
Savage started out as a striker for Manchester United, but never made a first team appearance, after which he switched to midfield. He won the League Cup with Leicester in 2000, and went on to play for Birmingham, Blackburn and Derby.
9 – Craig Bellamy
Bellamy has enjoyed a similarly controversial career to date, including a now infamous incident in a Barcelona hotel, where he struck then Liverpool team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club the night before a Champions League tie.
He has played for no less than ten clubs, and currently plies his trade in his hometown of Cardiff. He first made his name at Norwich City, where he scored an impressive 32 goals in 84 appearances.
8 – Neville Southall
Southall’s most famous years between the sticks came at Everton, where he remains the Toffees’ most capped player. He won an array of silverware at Goodison Park, including a Cup Winners’ Cup, two First Division titles and two FA Cups. In 1985, Southall won the prestigious Football Writer’s Association’s ‘Player of the Year’ award, a note-worthy feat for a goalkeeper.
7 – John Hartson
Arguably, Hartson’s best days came in a Celtic shirt, but he also enjoyed stints at Arsenal, Wimbledon and West Ham among others. He finally hung up his boots after two relatively dry years at West Bromwich Albion, and hit the headlines in 2009 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which he subsequently recovered from.
6 – Gary Speed
Speed’s career spanned an incredible 22 years, and he was unsurprisingly one of the Premier League’s most capped players. His versatility earned him numerous plaudits, and he shone in the midfields of Everton, Newcastle and Bolton.
It was at Sheffield United where he first began coaching, and he became manager of his national side in 2011, a position he held until his tragic death in November of the same year.
5 – Mark Hughes
Hughes also managed the Dragons, and is the current head coach at Stoke City. Hughes is most famous for his two spells at Manchester United (he joined Barcelona and Bayern Munich on loan in between). Hughes’ career was decorated to say the least, winning two league titles, four FA Cups, three League cups and a Cup Winners’ Cup.
4 – Cliff Jones
Jones was one of Wales’ first world-class players, playing a crucial role on the left-wing for Tottenham Hotspur in the 1960’s. He was one of the key players when Spurs won the double in 1961, the first club to do so in the 20th century.
He started out at Swansea, and attracted Tottenham’s eye after his appearances for Wales in the 1958 World Cup. To this day, he is considered one of Spurs’ greatest ever left-wingers, and after winning three FA Cups at White Hart Lane, he has left Gareth Bale with big footsteps to follow.
3 – Gareth Bale
The transfer window is awash with rumours of Bale’s imminent departure from Tottenham, but Spurs will be desperate to hold onto their star player. Bale was originally a left-back, until former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp moved him up-field to left wing.
He often plays just behind the forwards, and won numerous points to help Tottenham’s tally for the 2012-13 season up to a record 72. Some of his most notable goals came against West Ham, Manchester United and Sunderland, and without Champions League football, Spurs may struggle to hold onto him while the likes of Real Madrid are hovering.
2 – Ryan Giggs
Statistically, Giggs is the most successful player in British football history, having won an unrivalled thirteen titles. His incredible speed vaulted him into the Man United team at just seventeen years of age, and arguably his most famous moment came in 1996 with his astonishing solo goal against Arsenal.
Giggs’ cool head has been an asset particularly as he has become one of the more senior players at Old Trafford. He holds the record for the number of Premier League assists, and captained the newly formed Great Britain team at the 2012 Olympics.
1 - Ian Rush
A Liverpool legend, Rush is renowned as one of the greatest strikers of all time. Rush first made a name for himself as a teenager at Chester City, and Liverpool had to battle against interest from Manchester City before securing his services.
Surprisingly, it took Rush over a year to score his first goal for the Reds’, but after that the goals flowed. Before leaving for Juventus in 1987, he grabbed 139 goals for the Anfield side. He returned a year later to notch up another 90, and has gone down in history as one of Wales’ greatest heroes.
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