BBC Sport
 You are in: Sports Talk  
Sport Front Page
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Other Sports
Special Events
Sports Talk
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
Around The UK: 
N Ireland

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather

  Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 21:19 GMT 22:19 UK
The best Welsh side ever?
Is this the best Welsh team ever?
Wales storm to the top of Group Nine with their victory over the three-time World Champions.

What did you make of the performance, and where do you think Mark Hughes' boys stand in the history of Welsh football?

Craig Bellamy sealed a famous Wales victory with a second half winner at the Millennium Stadium.

The Welsh resurgence under boss Mark Hughes hit new heights as they recorded only their second win against Italy and surged to the top of Group Nine.

But how does the team compare to the John Charles-inspired side that reached the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup?

Do their achievements surpass those of Terry Yorath's team in the early '90s?

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.

To most people who have closely followed the national side over the years, the success against Italy is no great surprise. Sparky has been gradually moulding our team from also-rans, to an awkward difficult-to-beat outfit, to a team who now has the confidence and belief to go out and take the game to opponents.

Throughout my life I was a regular at Wales games and took great enjoyment of internationals even in our darkest hours. I always said to the mockers that every dog will have its day and it seems as though ours may have come.

Currently as an ex-pat in Australia I tracked the game in the early hours on the net and it was a memorable rollercoaster ride. I have been walking on water feeling two foot taller since the result. It hurt not to be there with family and friends but I'll take that if the boys to well!

My Australian friends think I'm barmy but they are beginning to understand my fierce passion for our team. I'm not sure whether this is the best side ever but the potential is definitely there - take us to Portugal heaven and you'll certainly swing the argument and I will suggest the Welsh Assmebly casts gold statues of the squad!

Let's forget the Wales-England issue and worry about our own backyard and keep doing well. It's time to concentrate on Welsh glory, honour our amazing coach and really support the team to even big and better things. Cymru Am Byth!
Gavin Price, Australia (From Newport, Wales)

I wake up every morning and think it was a dream! Roll on Azerbaijan!
Stephen Wike, Wales

Remember when people scoffed at the idea of a united Great Britain side, because "it would just be England plus Ryan Giggs"? How many of the present pathetic England XI would make this Wales team I wonder!
Chris Wheatley, New Zealand

Awesome! Stunning! Incredible! Where do I stop!? Why isn't Robbie Savage playing for Man U? Him and Roy Keane would be the complete package in the middle, he ran Italy off the park. Bellamy and Gabiddon were brilliant. I wake up every morning and think it was a dream! Roll on Azerbaijan!
Stephen Wike, Wales

If this can continue, Wales will be in Portugal. It is about time, Hughes will deserve a KNIGHTHOOD if they reach the finals, shame they weren't playing England instead, it would have been easier.

Good luck, I'll be there if you qualify. Just hope someone can come and save Swansea City like Hughesy has done for Wales, as Swansea City do not deserve to be in the state that they are in.
John, Wales

If we get two wins over Azerbaijan, the Welsh dragon will be breathing out a smoke trail to Portugal. What a great victory over the Azzuri!
Paul, Neath, Wales

I have been alive for 21 years, and this is without doubt the highest quality Welsh team I have ever seen! I reckon Simon Davies will next season be voted world footballer of the year! I have a bet on it!
Rasta man, Wales

Ten years of heartache have been healed with one fantastic victory
Dean Thomas, Wales

What can you say? Wales 2-1 Italy. And it was not a fluke! And their goal only came from a deflected free-kick that shouldn't have been given in the first place!

This Welsh side is clearly the best of my lifetime, and unlike previous years we do have strong players on the bench. Barnard for Speed, Blake for Hartson, Earnshaw for Bellamy, Coyne for Jones, players that could come in and do a job if needed.

Are you watching Eng-er-land? Fancy a 'friendly'?
Tim Nicholls, Wales

Let the memory of Wednesday night live long in the memories of every Welsh man. Ten years of heartache have been healed with one fantastic victory, and the sense of great things to come.

Talking to people before the game led me to believe that Wales had three or four world-class players, but after the game I am positive Wales has 11 world-class players. Respect to Mark Hughes, and all he has done for the nation.
Dean Thomas, Wales

What a great result!! The lads fully deserve all this praise, they were magnificent. The BBC should have shown the game instead of England's substandard performance. I have taken stick for too long for supporting my fellow countrymen - bring back the home nation internationals.
Matt, Bristol, England

Well done boys, here's to Portugal 2004
Rhian Evans, Wales/USA

Everybody seems surprised that Wales are now in contention for Portugal. The real Welsh fans who watch every game have known that for quite some time. We've lived in England's shadow for far too long and I feel that it is now time to show the English what we can do on the pitch.
Kevin Davies, Cardiff, South Wales

This Wales team is on the verge of being the greatest ever. Two victories over Azerbaijan will firmly set them in folklore. Well, Mark's Men, we're all proud of you.
Jonathan Stockley, Wales

I am working in America at the moment and felt really homesick on Wednesday, as I have not missed a Wales match in four years. I was jumping for joy when I found out the result which makes up for the fact I wasn't there! Well done boys, here's to Portugal 2004.
Rhian Evans, Wales/USA

The players have always been there, it's just that they were too young to be experienced. Put it this way, Wales can beat a good Italy team, a great Germany team, and all this when the Wales squad was demotivated? I want to see what they can do when they are motivated.

I have always said that Wales could be the best in the world and it looks like they are on their way finally. England watch out. You're no longer the number one in Britain.
Darren Astley, Wales

Fantastic result. Well done Wales, and well deserved. As an Englishman, I wish England could play with the same passion and the same technical nous that the Welsh are showing under Mark Hughes. They will qualify for Euro 2004.

Wales were everything our sorry lot weren't on Wednesday night
Paul, England

Also, why has nobody in the Premiership even made a bid for Robert Earnshaw - a potentially top international-class player if ever I've seen one.
Jon, Ireland

It's a little premature to say that this is the best Welsh side ever, Boyo's, but I certainly think it is the basis on which to build the best ever Welsh team.

Wales were everything our sorry lot weren't on Wednesday night and they can quite rightly start thinking about possible qualification for Euro 2004.

However, they mustn't get carried away and should stay focused on the job. It is still very tough group, the toughest out of the lot in my opinion, and to achieve success in the group would send out a strong message to the rest of Europe and the World.
Paul, England

We shouldn't be surprised at this result. Wales have a very good team now; Premiership players by and large and Gabbidon/Earnshaw are world-class already.

Well done to Sparky though, he's got them playing as a team and he's keeping his feet on the ground as well. I can't wait until next month now.
Tommy, Wales (from Newtown)

It's good to see Wales coming back after some time in the doldrums
Andrew McQuaker, Scotland

I was there, behind the goal when Bellamy made Buffon look like a baboon, scoring his wonder goal. I have no doubt that Wales will get the results we need from our next two matches, to takes us through to Euro 2004. I'm planning my holidays to Portugal already. COME ON WALES!
Nathan, England

I was blown away with the vigour of the Welsh team. Robbie Savage was everywhere, running up and down the park all night. He may be renowned as a skilful player, but he gave it everything in the Millennium Stadium. The team play with the same physical determination you saw in Mark Hughes. Truly inspiring!
Emyr Cummins, London (orig. Llanelli)

Congratulations from Scotland. Great performance, great win and it looked like a great atmosphere too. It's good to see Wales coming back after some time in the doldrums. Well done again.
Andrew McQuaker, Scotland

I'm still in dreamland! Awesome display - we played the Italians off the park and that's no exaggeration. A red-hot atmosphere and a truly world-class performance all made for a night never to be forgotten.

Savage was man of the match for me (has he stopped running yet?). Danny Gabbidon was another one who shone - as a Cardiff City fan I can tell you, this boy is as cool as they come on the pitch and WILL be a huge star in years to come. Well done boys - keep it going!
Gareth Tucker, Cardiff, Wales

We have had heartache in rugby but at last we have joy in football
Jamie Badham, Cardiff

Just great, but let's keep our feet on the ground - Yugoslavia, Finland and definitely Italy are not out of it yet.

Bob Dwyer, the famous rugby union World Cup-winning Wallaby coach said that Aussies are really bad winners but the Welsh are even worse. It's true guys, we go way over the top, maybe because we are a tiny nation. Fantastic, but let's get more points in the bag. Good one Sparky.
Taffy Griffiths, Australia (from Bridgend)

At last, a top-class performance from a Welsh team shows we can compete with anyone. Roll on Euro 2004!
Kieron Lloyd, Luton, England

Wales have waited a long time for this. We have had heartache in rugby but at last we have joy in football. We all thought we could win and it's about time Wales got noticed.
Jamie Badham, Cardiff, Wales

I watch Danny Gabbidon week in week out at Cardiff City. We're going to have a job hanging on to him when the transfer window re-opens. Awesome.
Paul Davidson, Wales

They deserved to win but we will bring them down to earth in Italy and I predict they will remain the nearly men as they will fail to qualify.
Giampiero Raffaini, UK

Gabbidon must be worth the mortgage on the stadium
Geraint, Wales
Brilliant - I was there! Delaney (not good enough for Villa) is the best right-back in the Premier League. Gabbidon (not good enough for Albion) was simply majestic. Nathan Blake, only one kick - and that was an Italian - fantastic! What a stadium; what an atmosphere; what a performance!
Glyn Berrington, England

Mark Hughes has done great. Why couldn't Terry Yorath do it? We had Saunders, Hughes, Rush and that was an attack!
Alan Davis, England

A ticket stub to keep! Gabbidon must be worth the mortgage on the stadium. They play as a team, something the rugby boys should look at. Mark Hughes is God.
Geraint, Wales

The '58 side had the best British player ever and one of Europe's best in John Charles [no player ever has been recognised as the beat centre-half and the best centre-forward in the world at the same time]. His brother was selected as the best centre-half in the '58 World Cup. We also had Cliff Jones, Terry Medwin, Ivor Allchurch, and Jack Kelsey - all world class players.

So I would say they are not as good yet as that side - remember the '58 side qualified and performed very well - however this side are young and will get better.

However, please don't get carried away, let's keep our feet on the ground there's still a long, long way to go.
Peter, Australia

Having followed Welsh football for 20 years and suffered defeat after expected defeat and being below Vietnam in the world ranking, I fully intend to savour these moments as Welsh football rises like a phoenix from the ashes! Long may it continue, and let's have a campaign to be proud of!
Barry, Australia

The boys have made us Welsh around the world so proud
Chris Griffiths, Australia

I'm really sorry that I'm not in the country at the moment, it must be buzzing!!! Let's all keep our feet on the ground though, we've still got to get another 10 or so points from the group. It would be spectacular for us to get to Portugal, a real lift for the nation. Let's treat the boys as heroes; they've done us proud again!
Rhisiart Martin, Cymru-Denmarc

It's been such a great journey witnessing the hapless performances of Bobby Gould's reign slowly transforming under the excellent leadership of Mark Hughes. It was evident during the last World Cup qualifiers that Wales were improving when they lost only three of their 10 games.

Now those credible draws against decent opposition are turning into memorable results against true world class sides (Argentina, Germany, Italy, watch this space). The doubters who said the result against Germany was a one-off will hopefully get behind the Welsh cause and start to believe in our chances of reaching a major final.

Come on Wales! Give us more reason to shout in front of our TVs like madmen, and firmly stamp your mark on the European and World game by making it to Portugal 2004.
Mike, Sheffield (from Gwent, Wales)

Being an ex-pat and living in Sydney with a large Italian community all I can say is boys you were magnificent. I was getting some stick before the match and now I have a few phone calls to make. The boys have made us Welsh around the world so proud.
Chris Griffiths, Australia

This side is probably the most balanced team we've had for a number of generations. If we can stay injury free then I'm sure the task can be completed and we can finally reach a major finals again.
James Robinson, Thailand

The most amazing thing about the last few months is that the result was not totally unexpected or undeserved
Jonny Lewis, England (from Pembrokeshire)

This time Italy can't blame the referee. A solid performance from Wales against overrated Italian stars.
Koen Verlinden, Italy

This is a great result, but it does not beat the 1958 World Cup team. Though I wasn't born then, from what I read they were the best Welsh side ever. For me, this is the best Welsh team in my lifetime. Long may it continue - fantastic stuff!

Fancy a friendly England?
John Davies, Wales

In August I talked with John Hartson in Zagreb in the hotel Sheraton. I told him that Wales can qualify top of their group - and it looks like I could be right!
Sasa Papac, Croatia

The most amazing thing about the last few months is that the result was not totally unexpected or undeserved - that says so much about the team now. That night in 1994 v Romania ripped my heart out but qualifying this time will make me forget that for good..!
Jonny Lewis, England (from Pembrokeshire)

I'm sure I speak for all Scots in wishing Wales all the best in their quest to qualify
Mark Palmer, Scotland

I'd like to give special praise to Daniel Gabbidon who plays for Cardiff City. I've seen his unruffled performances week in week out against Nationwide opposition and he carried it across to International level effortlessly. He also started the move that lad to Bellamy's winner. He was definitely my man of the match.
Tim Baker, Wales

This Wales team has surpassed all teams; even the 1958 World Cup side. Mark Hughes is a fantastic manager with the experience and know-how to break down these tough sides. They have world class, Champions League winning quality in Ryan Giggs, and experience in the likes of Gary Speed and John Hartson, and youth and excitement in quite a lot of the players in the side, especially the likes of Craig Bellamy!
Conal Goodale, England

I'm sure I speak for all Scots in wishing Wales all the best in their quest to qualify. God knows us Scots have done some nasty things to the Welsh in World Cup qualifiers in the past. A proud nation and a great team which deserves its day in the sun. Go on Wales.
Mark Palmer, Scotland

This team certainly rates with the team Terry Yorath built in the early 90's, which so nearly qualified for the '94 World Cup. Let's hope the Welsh FA don't repeat history and sack another successful manager. Given time, Hughes can build a team that will consistently perform well.
Chris, Swansea UK

Mark Hughes seems to be the manager Wales have longed for
Ryan Curran, Ireland

What a change the inspiration of a committed, winning manager makes. Mark Hughes looked like a proud father after the interview last night and deservedly so.

Remember when John Toshack was manager and he could not find the time to train with the team before major internationals due to commitments to his Spanish team? It is no wonder they never got to any major finals in the last couple of decades with that kind of leadership mentality.

I also remember Terry Yorath asking for his wage to be doubled from 15k to 30 at the same time as the England Manager (Hoddle I think) was on 500k, the Welsh FA turned him down and he left. I hope all these ridiculous scenarios are behind Wales now and they can start to enjoy the success with Hughes they deserve.
Barry Island, Cymru

Hats off to Wales. They are the only British side to actually deserve any points. Ireland were extremely poor and England should have walked that Macedonia game, especially at home.

But Wales took a well deserved victory which demonstrates they are the best Wales side in a long, long time. Mark Hughes seems to be the manager Wales have longed for.
Ryan Curran, Ireland

Well done Wales! Fantastic result. Let's see you in a major finals, once and for all.
Danny, Scotland

Brilliant, just brilliant! How can people say this result was unexpected? An in form Welsh side against an out of form Azzuri! Bring it on!
Ed Barnes, England/Wales

Mark Hughes has truly turned our team around and has instilled some pride
Iwan - Welsh Exile, USA

Great result! I'm English, and given the displays against Slovakia and Macedonia, there's no way our team of over paid thickies could beat Italy 2-1 Any chance of becoming Welsh?
Phillip Pannell, UK/US

Fantastic. I'm digging out my Welsh shirt to goad all the Canadian Italians at work tomorrow. I'll be flying for a week - thanks boys.
Alan Trenhaile, Canada (ex Wales)

WRU look out, the national game is a changing!
Peter Williams, Cardiff, UK

Another fantastic result from an ever improving Wales team. Mark Hughes has truly turned our team around and has instilled some pride in wearing the red jersey again. There is no more to say. I am over the moon. Fantastic. Cymru am Byth.
Iwan - Welsh Exile, USA

Superb! Somebody should show the England team a video of tonight's game. Every player gave their all. Gabbidon plays Second Division football but tonight he snuffed out Italys finest. There were 11 'Men of the match' for me
Paul, Wales

I think special praise should go to Danny Gabbidon
Lewis, Wales

It must be difficult for most Welsh fans to compare this side with the 1958 team . It is certainly the best side I've known. Let's play England, now!
Dai Williams, Wales

Best Welsh side? without a doubt. Savage was the best player tonight - a brilliant team performance, they all now appreciate how important this is. Who would have thought that if we win the next game we are five points clear!
Steve Buckley, Wales

Well done Wales! I think special praise should go to Danny Gabbidon. A very solid performance.
Lewis, Wales

I can't really say how they compare but that was a great result by any standards, well done to the team and Mark Hughes. It would be great to see them make the finals.
Richy, England

Fingers crossed that the squad remains injury free for the rest of the tournament
Darren Hook, Oxford, England

I went to the match and I have to say Wales were excellent. The class of Davies, Bellamy, Giggs and all the others is a truely awesome sight that left Italy running scared. Beat that England!
Marc Pollentine, Wales

Tonight's victory surpasses any over the last 25 years. Whereas in the era of Rush and Hughes, Wales were always dependent on a brave, but at times desperate rear guard action to stay competitive in games, the latest Wales team has a much better balance and ability to influence games.

Additionally, there are no glaring weak links in this latest Wales team. This team has the capability to go on the offensive. Fingers crossed that the squad remains injury free for the rest of the tournament.

Whereas in the past I was never confident that, at the death, Wales really had the quality in depth to qualify for a major championship. I believe things look very different today.
Darren Hook, Oxford, England

I bet Giggsy can't wait to meet up with Beckham!
Jason, Manchester,England

I witnessed Ian Rush's dream strike to sink the Germans all those years ago, however, tonight's result has created an awesome basis for Welsh football to truly grow. Bring on Brazil!
Ian Cassley, Wales

This is great news, as I doubt the rugby team will beat the Italians in the next Six Nations! Well done!
Howard Jones, USA ex-pat

England could learn a thing or two watching the passionate performance tonight!
Warren Pilkington, Manchester, England

Go Wales. Brillant performance, brillant team. It's going to be wonderful cheering them on in Euro 2004
Roxanne, England

As an England fan I have to say that if we played Wales right now we would get a hammered. We draw with some 'unknown' team and Wales beat Italy. Well done Wales and hope you qualify.
Barry, UK,

Contrast England's spineless performance with Wales' superb 2-1 win over Italy.

Mark Hughes knows what it is like to wear the shirt, always gave 100% whoever he played for and you knew when he was out there that he'd never give up.

That same philosophy has been instilled into the Welsh team and their never say die attitude (along with the skill too, I should add) is not only inspiring them to great performances, but results. I half wished the BBC had shown the Wales game live, as by the sound of it, it was a cracking game.

Well done Wales. England could learn a thing or two watching the passionate performance tonight!
Warren Pilkington, Manchester, England

I listened to the game over the net on Radio Wales. What a game what a result! Well done to all the players. From this we will go from strength to strength. Ymlaen!!
Paul Noble, USA (from Newport)

All the latest news for the big match

Latest news

Recent results


Expert view

Have your say



Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sports Talk stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sports Talk stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales