Best Ever Cardiff Born XI

Continuing on from my previous article where I looked at the best ever North and South Wales XI’s. I decided to break this down even further and look at the best XI from our capital, Cardiff. This is based on my own opinion and I welcome any variations you may have.

GK – Graham Vearncombe – Who made over 200 appearances for his hometown club and was a part of the Wales squad for the 1958 World Cup. Making 2 appearances for Wales.

DF – Peter Rodrigues – Who started his career with Cardiff City but would later be remembered as the captain of Southampton’s 1976 FA Cup winning team that defeated Manchester United. He would go on to win 40 caps for his country.

DF – Fred Keenor – Another FA Cup-winning captain, famously leading Cardiff to their lone FA Cup win in 1927 against Arsenal. Would make over 400 appearances for the Bluebirds in a career that was interrupted because of the First World War and a shrapnel wound he received whilst fighting in the Battle of the Somme. He would go on to make 32 appearances for Wales.

DF – Ron Stitfall – A one-club man who made over 400 appearances for Cardiff just after the Second World War, where he formed a formidable full-back partnership with club great Alf Sherwood. Was rather unfortunate to only win two caps.

MF – Ryan Giggs – Who moved from Cardiff when he was 6 years old and would go on to become Manchester United’s record appearance maker and most decorated player. He would go on to make 62 appearances for his country but is a divisive figure amongst Wales supporters.

MF – Gil Reece – A winger whose career did not get off to the greatest of starts as he was released by Cardiff as a youngster. He would return to the club a decade later and make over 100 appearances, whilst also make over 200 for Sheffield United. Reece would win 29 caps for Wales.

MF – Craig Bellamy – Who began his footballing career in the youth set up at Bristol Rovers before making the move to Norwich City, where he made his professional debut in 1997. He would go on to play for 9 more clubs in a career which finished at his hometown club for whom he helped gain promotion to the Premier League. He would make 78 appearances for his country which puts him fourth all time.

MF – Terry Yorath – Who began his career with Leeds United and was a part of Don Revie’s successful Leeds side of the 1970’s, becoming the first Welshman to play in a European Cup final when Leeds lost to Bayern Munich in 1975. He would go on to make 59 appearances for Wales and was their manager from 1988-1993 and was within a whisker of leading his country to the World Cup in 1994.

MF – John Mahoney – Whose early life was followed by Ryan Giggs when Mahoney would move to Manchester as a child as his father played rugby league. He began his career in non-league football with Ashton United before being snapped up by Crewe Alexandra. Mahoney would spend the majority of his career with Stoke City for whom he made over 300 appearances. He would win over 50 caps for his country.

FW – John Toshack – Who at the time of his debut in 1965 was the youngest player to ever play for Cardiff, a record that was broken by Aaron Ramsey over 40 years later. Toshack’s career could have taken a different path were it not for Frank Worthington’s high blood pressure, which cancelled his move to Liverpool and made them turn their attention to Toshack. He would spend the majority of his career with Liverpool, forming a famous partnership with Kevin Keegan. He would make 40 appearances for his country and manage them on two separate occasions and is credited with beginning the international careers of many of Wales’ current stars.

FW – Gareth Bale – The jewel in Wales’ crown. Who began his career with Southampton after being discovered playing for local side Cardiff Civil Service. Bale is currently second all-time of the goalscoring charts for his country and it is only a matter of time before he is the holder of this record. Currently plays for Real Madrid, where the club is enjoying an especially golden period, winning 10 trophies since arriving at the club in 2013.

Notable exceptions

What I learned from my last article was that there were plenty of players that I forgot to mention, that deserved some recognition. So here is a list of players who although did not make my XI, I feel are more than worthy of a mention and for some of you would make your best XI’s.

Joe Ledley – Who made his debut for Cardiff at the age of 17 and would go on to make over 250 appearances at his time with the club before moving to Celtic where he would win multiple trophies in a four-season spell. Has recently signed with Derby County to kickstart his career after being released by Crystal Palace in the summer. Has made over 70 appearances for his country.

Colin Webster – Who although began his career with Cardiff, never made an appearance for the club as he was spotted by Manchester United assistant manager Jimmy Murphy and moved north in 1952. He was fortunate that the flu stopped him from travelling with United when they played Red Star Belgrade and being on the plane which caused the Munich Air Disaster in 1958. He was a part of the Welsh squad, which went to Sweden to play in the 1958 World Cup and played in three matches whilst over there.

Nathan Blake – Who was a trainee at Chelsea to begin his career but did not make an appearance for the club and came back home to Cardiff where he would make over 100 appearances. He would go on to play for seven more sides before retiring in 2006 with Newport Country. He would make 29 appearances for Wales.

Paul Bodin – Who will, unfortunately, be forever associated with his penalty miss against Romania in a World Cup qualifier in 1993, which Wales needed to win to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. He spent the majority of his club career with Swindon Town, making nearly 300 appearances for the club. He made 23 appearances for his country.

Phil Dwyer – Cardiff’s record appearance maker (not including Southern Football League appearances) with 575. Dwyer was lucky to have such a long career as in 1975, against Gillingham he was knocked unconscious and swallowed his tongue which caused him to stop breathing. Luckily this did not cause any permanent damage and Dwyer was back in the side a week later. He would make 10 appearances for Wales.

Len Davies – Who is Cardiff’s record goalscorer with 179 goals for the club during its most successful period in 1920’s when Cardiff was challenging for the First Division title and made it to two FA Cup finals in 1925 and 1927 (winning the latter). He would win 23 appearances for his country, scoring 6 goals during a successful time for Wales in which they won the Home Championship titles in 1924 and 1928.

Colin Baker – Another player who played for Cardiff his whole career, making over 300 appearances for the Bluebirds. He was also a part of the Welsh squad that travelled to Sweden for the 1958 World Cup. He would make his Wales debut during his time there and make 7 appearances overall.

Let me know what you think of the eleven selected.

Neil Jones