Wales last participated in a major tournament at the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden when a John Charles inspired team reached the quarter-finals. Despite delivering a plethora of top class talent like Ian Rush and Ryan Giggs Wales finally ended over half a century of waiting to participate on the big stage by qualifying for Euro 2016 in France.
How They Qualified: Wales finished 2 points behind Belgium’s golden generation in Group B whom they defeated 1-0 in Cardiff in June. Gareth Bale top scored throughout qualifying with 7 goals as the Welshmen booked their tickets to France despite losing to Bosnia 2-0 in Zenica, their only qualifying defeat, in the final round of matches. In qualification they managed to elevate themselves to within the Top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings temporarily, even above rivals England.
Tournament History: N/A
Coach: Chris Coleman.
The former defender had his career prematurely ended after a car crash broke his leg causing irreparable damage. Instead the former Swansea City, Crystal Palace and Fulham defender took a path into management. The Welshman joined Jean Tigana’s coaching staff before replacing the Frenchman in 2003 at Craven Cottage. Afterwards Coleman went on to a disastrous spell with Real Sociedad where an off field incident marred his career in Spain. He took the Wales job as the successor to the late Gary Speed in January 2012 where he has guided the national team to their most successful period in history.
Nickname: Dreigiau (Dragons)
Key Man: Gareth Bale.
Since emerging from the Southampton youth academy and cutting his teeth in North London with Tottenham Hotspur, the Real Madrid winger has grown into one of the best players in the world. Wales are far from a one man team but Gareth Bale has easily been their stand out performer. With a license to roam across the front line, it’s clear the Cardiff born winger is bursting with pride every time he pulls on the Wales jersey.
One To Watch: Aaron Ramsey. The midfielder’s performances for Arsenal over the past two seasons have made Aaron Ramsey one of the most consistent performers in the English Premier League. While a spectacular back-heeled goal at White Hart Lane was a high point of an injury hit season, the former Cardiff City man made a strong finish to the season and looks set to make an impact at Euro 2016.
June 11, 12 p.m. vs. Slovakia
June 15, 9 a.m. vs. England
June 20, 3 p.m. vs. Russia
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Liverpool), Owain Fon Williams (Inverness).
Defenders: Chris Gunter (Reading), James Chester (West Brom), Ashley Williams (Swansea City), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), Neil Taylor(Swansea City), James Collins (West Ham), Jazz Richards (Fulham).
Midfielders: Joe Allen (Liverpool), Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Andy King (Leicester City), David Edwards (Wolves), Jonny Williams (Crystal Palace), David Vaughan (Nottingham Forest), George Williams (Fulham).
Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Sam Vokes (Burnley), Simon Church (Milton Keynes Dons), David Cotterill (Birmingham City).