You might very well think of rugby when it comes to Wales and nothing moves the nation like rugby internationals; that was until 2016...
Under the #TogetherStronger banner, the passion for Wales international football was reignited when the men’s team qualified for the finals of EURO 2016 in France. There Wales exceeded all expectations and reached the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners, Portugal. This was the first time the national team had qualified for the finals of a major championship since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden when they reached the quarter finals losing against Brazil following a goal from a 17 year old Pele!
EURO 2016 lifted the spirits of the whole nation and was a great adventure for the team and fans alike. Both proved popular ambassadors for Wales during their time in France. Evidence of the team’s success was highlighted when midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen were both named in UEFA's 'Team of the Tournament', while Superstar Gareth Bale, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes all scored memorable goals. We hope this is just the beginning, as we look towards the EURO 2020 tournament.
Female participation is growing rapidly and the national team is at an exciting stage in its development with a number of talented young players joining the likes of record scorer Helen Ward and Jess Fishlock MBE, who is the first Welsh player (female or male) to earn 100 caps for their country.
The 2017 UEFA Champions League men’s final was played in front of almost 66,000 fans at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium with Gareth Bale’s Real Madrid beating Juventus 4-1. The women's final was held in our capital at the Cardiff City Stadium where Lyon beat Paris St. Germain on penalties, in an all French encounter. Two finals, one city and what a great show Wales put on and an exceptional atmosphere created by the fans.
[Ryan Giggs, the current coach of the Men's national team]
The Football Association of Wales (FAW), established in 1876, is the third oldest National Football Association in the world. It runs the sport in Wales and oversees the Wales national teams.
Football is one of, if not the most, popular participation sports in Wales and there are many opportunities for people to get involved, in local teams or even just for fun on the many local football pitches. The Welsh Football Trust develops the grassroots element of the game across Wales and nurtures our more talented young players.
Wales is a Gold Standard Association under UEFA’s Grass Roots Charter in recognition of the scale and standard of the coaching programmes delivered. Wales was one of the first sixteen Associations to become full signatories of the UEFA Coaching convention to Pro Licence level. We are also the first nation to provide coach education online, attracting world class players to our courses, including the likes of Thierry Henry, Marcel Desailly and Patrick Viera.
Professional football clubs traditionally play in the English league system and at different times Swansea City, Cardiff City, Newport County and Wrexham AFC have all enjoyed degrees of success over the years. Cardiff City competes in the English Premier League – the most watched league in the most popular sport in the world. We also have our own Welsh Premier League won by the The New Saints, who qualified for the 1st round of the Champions league and Cardiff Met Ladies team won the women's Welsh league in 2018.
Cardiff City is the only team to take the FA Cup out of England when Cardiff beat Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley in 1927.
Over the years Wales has produced some world class players such as John Charles, Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Neville Southall, Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale. In the summer of 2013 Gareth Bale, from Cardiff, broke the world transfer fee record when Real Madrid bought him from Tottenham Hotspur for an estimated €100 million. John Charles also broke the British transfer fee records when he transferred to Juventus in 1956 and is still remembered in Turin with enormous fondness as Il Gigante Buono – The Gentle Giant.