The next destination of our alphabetical world tour is Wales. In the middle of a resurgence on the international stage, Wales have qualified for the last two European Championships having gone over 50 years prior to 2016.
Some of the best players in Premier League history have hailed from Wales. According to the Premier League website, 112 players have represented Wales in the Premier League, including 14 on the opening day of the very first season.
First Player – Several
14 Welsh players started for their respective clubs on the opening day of the 1992/93 season, simultaneously becoming the first Welshmen to play in the newly revamped Premier League era: Gareth Hall, Vinnie Jones (both Chelsea), Eric Young, Chris Coleman (both Crystal Palace), Neville Southall, Barry Horne (both Everton), Gary Speed (Leeds United), Ryan Giggs, Mark Hughes, Clayton Blackmore (all Manchester United), Mark Bowen, David Phillips (both Norwich) and Glyn Hodges (Sheffield United).
Most Appearances & Top Scorer: Ryan Giggs – 632 appearances, 109 goals (Manchester United: 1997-2014)
Loved by loyal Manchester United supporters, hated by loyal husbands, Ryan Giggs holds the records for most appearances and goals by a Welshman in the Premier League.
They are not the only records he holds either. His 162 assists are also an all-time best, 51 higher than Cesc Fabregas in second place, while Giggs scored in a mind-blowing 23 consecutive seasons in the top-flight, including the first 21 in the Premier League era.
Part of his Premier League longevity has been attributed to his and Sir Alex Ferguson’s tendency to prioritise club football over Giggs’ international career with Wales, for whom he made 64 appearances over 16 years.
Giggs broke through at Manchester United during 1990/91 and made his final league appearances in 2013/14 – the season after Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Though some of his records have and will be passed (his record of appearances has since been surpassed by Englishman Gareth Barry), it seems unlikely that any player will ever top Giggs’ astonishing record of 13 Premier League titles as a player.
Seven Welshmen appeared in the Premier League in 2019/20 before suspension – Neil Taylor (Aston Villa), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Harry Wilson (Bournemouth, on loan from Liverpool), Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Daniel James (Manchester United), Paul Dummett (Newcastle United) and Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur).
- Four Welsh players have won the Premier League – Ryan Giggs (x13), Mark Hughes (x2), Clayton Blackmore (Manchester United, 1992/93) and Andy King (Leicester, 2015/16).
- Barry Horne scored the first Premier League goal by a Welshman, equalising for Everton after 44 minutes on the opening day of the 1992/93 season.
- Six Welshmen have scored a Premier League hat-trick – Gareth Bale, Robert Earnshaw, Mark Hughes, Aaron Ramsey, Dean Saunders and Gary Speed.
- Nathan Blake was relegated from the Premier League five times, a joint-record (Hermann Hreidarsson also five).
- Robert Earnshaw is the only player to have scored a hat-trick in the top four divisions of English football, the FA Cup, the League Cup and an international match.