While Wales is a small country within Great Britain, it has produced an array of talented soccer players throughout its history. Many Welsh players begin their career playing for local Welsh clubs, moving on to larger teams in the English Premier League if they are talented enough. Here is the list of the top six best Welsh soccer players of all time.
Who Are The Best Welsh Soccer Players Ever?
- Gareth Bale
- John Charles
- Ian Rush
- Ryan Giggs
- Mark Hughes
- Billy Meredith
1. Gareth Bale
- Four-time FIFA Club World Cup Winner
- Five-time UEFA Champions League winner
- Three-time UEFA Super Cup Winner
Gareth Bale is regarded as the best Welsh soccer player of all time. Bale was born in 1989 in the city of Cardiff, Wales. The right winger is widely known for his speed and his shooting ability. Gareth Bale began his professional career playing for the English club Southampton. In 2007, Bale transferred to the English Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur F.C., where he transformed into a star player. Bale played for the club until he moved to the Spanish Giant Real Madrid in 2020 and later LAFC in 2022. Bale has won the Welsh Player of the Year award six times, as well as the UEFA Champions League a whopping five times.
2. John Charles
- Highest goalscorer in the Serie A in the 1957 season
- Five-time winner of the Italian Championship
- Former Commander of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Association Football
The second-best Welsh soccer player of all time is John Charles. Born in the city of Swansea, Wales, in 1931, John Charles was a highly-skilled center forward who played for many top-tier clubs. Charles began his professional career playing for Leeds United in England in 1949. After a series of transfers between Leeds United and the Italian giant Juventus, Charles settled at Merthyr Town, a Welsh club, where he ended his career in 1974. John Charles was the top scorer in the Serie A in the 1957 season, scoring 28 goals. Additionally, he has won the Italian Championship with Juventus five times.
3. Ian Rush
- Five-time winner of the English Championship
- Two-time winner of the European Champion Club Cup
- Four-time English Super Cup winner
The third-best Welsh soccer player of all time is Ian Rush. Rush was born in the town of St. Asaph in Wales in 1961. He began his professional career in 1979, playing for Chester City. After finding success playing as a center forward, Ian Rush went on to play for legendary soccer teams such as Juventus, Liverpool Football Club, Leeds United, Newcastle Football Club, and even Sheffield United, one of the oldest professional soccer clubs in history. Among his achievements, Ian Rush helped Liverpool win the English Championship five times throughout his career with the club. Rush retired from soccer in 2000, playing for Sydney Rush in Australia.
4. Ryan Giggs
- 2008 FIFA Club World Cup winner
- Two-time UEFA Champions League winner
- 13-time English Championship winner
The fourth-best Welsh soccer player of all time is Ryan Giggs, the legendary Manchester United midfielder. Ryan Giggs was born in the city of Cardiff, Wales, in 1973. Giggs rose through the ranks of the Manchester City Youth Academy until he was bought by Manchester United’s Youth Academy in 1987. In 1991, Giggs began playing professionally for Manchester United’s first team. Ryan Giggs is regarded as one of Manchester United’s best players of all time, and a club legend, as he stayed with the team for his entire professional career, retiring in 2014. The Welsh midfielder was regarded for his playmaking and passing ability, filling vital gaps in the team.
5. Mark Hughes
- Two-time Footballer of the Year
- Two-time English Championship winner
- Four-time FA Cup winner
The fifth-best Welsh soccer player of all time is Mark Hughes. The Welsh center forward was born in 1963 and played as a center forward throughout his career. Hughes began his professional career playing for Manchester United in 1983. After three years with the British club, he transferred to La Liga, where he played with Barcelona. After a series of loans between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Hughes ended his career back in the English league with Blackburn Rovers in 2002. Throughout his time in the English top flight, Hughes scored 64 goals. In both 1993 and 1994, he was named Footballer of the Year.
6. Billy Meredith
- Scored 152 goals throughout his professional career
- Starting player in all of his 394 games played
- Won 205 of his 394 career games
The sixth-best Welsh soccer player of all time is Billy Meredith. Meredith was born in the town of Chirk, Wales, in 1874, long before the rest of the top six Welsh players. Meredith played as an attacker before the establishment of the modern soccer positions today. He began his career playing for his hometown team Chirk AAA, eventually going on to play for Manchester City in 1894. In 1906 Meredith transferred to Manchester United, staying with the team until his return to Manchester City in 1921. The attacker retired after a long career in 1924. While Meredith’s career stats are not officially known since he played in professional soccer’s early years, he has gone on to become a Welsh soccer legend and a renowned Manchester City veteran.
- Ben Davies
- Colin Hughes
- David Brooks
- Daniel James
- Aaron Ramsey
- Brennan Johnson
- Kieffer Moore
- Danny Ward
- Tom Lawrence
- Joe Allen