There have been many great Welsh players in the Premier League, but only four have a Premier League winners medal. One of those figures ranks very prominently in the list of great Welshmen in Premier League lore, but amongst that quartet are Mark Hughes, Clayton Blackmore and Andy King.
The first two names were amongst those who won the first two editions of the Premier League with Manchester United. King, meanwhile, was a part of the Leicester City squad that stunned the world in 2015/16. However, they do not make the list of the Premier League’s greatest Welshmen.
There are a few other notable mentions who don’t make the list either. Mark Hughes, Neville Southall, and Ian Rush are all Welsh football legends, but it was the latter years of their respective careers that coincided with the greatest revolution in English football – namely, the inauguration of the Premier League in 1992.
At number five in this list is a man who has toured many a club, but somehow never quite managed to win a Premier League winners’ medal.
5. Craig Bellamy
There have been a few Welsh greats who have played Premier League football, but done after peaking. Bellamy played 294 games in the league, over spells with Coventry, Newcastle, Blackburn, Liverpool, West Ham, Man City and Cardiff. He scored just under 100 Premier League goals and was always a constant threat.
While he may not have been the most stylish striker, in a league containing the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Thierry Henry, he did enjoy some notable achievements. Amongst them was a third-place finish with Newcastle in 2003 and a run to the 2007 Champions League final with Liverpool.
On the international scene, he finished his career with 78 caps and 19 goals.
4. Aaron Ramsey
Coincidence or not, his departure from Arsenal to Juventus on a free transfer has correlated with a lengthening of Arsenal’s odds for all competitions in 2019/20 on Sporting Index. While the recent Emirates exile might exist in the shadow of Gareth Bale on the international scene, he has proven himself to be an excellent player for both club and country.
Signed in 2008 by Arsenal, as a man who could both coordinate midfield plays and pick out a deadly pass, Ramsey was a three-time FA Cup winner with Arsenal. His tally of 14 goals in his 58 appearances for Wales have also helped to propel them through the rankings in recent years, with the obvious highlight being a glorious run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
3. Gary Speed
Had the Premier League’s first season been held in 1991/92 – rather than the season after – Gary Speed would be amongst the Welsh winners of a Premier League medal, having been part of Leeds United’s title-winning squad that year. Alas, it was not to be, but he is remembered with reverence by fans of every Premier League club he played for.
He gave great service to Leeds before moving to Everton in 1996 and memorably scoring on his debut, as Everton began the 1996/97 season as dark horses for the title under Joe Royle. He left in 1998, and was an instrumental part of Newcastle’s improvement under Sir Bobby Robson after the millennium, before ending his Premier League career at Bolton after inspiring his teammates to a first European campaign in the 21st century.
With 535 Premier League appearances, he stands at 5th in the list of Premier League loyalists. However, his greatest legacy in Wales will be completely changing the attitude of Welsh international football – and making the Welsh proud of more than just the rugby team.
2. Gareth Bale
With just 146 appearances in the Premier League, there would be those who say he shouldn’t be on this list. Yet, after a slow start at Tottenham, he soon exploded into life and became one of the most dangerous footballers on the planet.
His 2012/13 season, which featured 21 goals in 33 games, ranks as probably the greatest season by a Welsh footballer in the league.
Despite having his critics, 78 goals in 155 La Liga games shows what the Premier League has been missing. Never one to shirk his international responsibilities, his record as Wales’ all-time scorer has already established him as a Welsh football legend.
1. Ryan Giggs
You can argue about the greatest ever Welsh player, but you can’t argue about the best Welsh player to have played in the Premier League, it is Giggs – and nobody else.
The 13 league trophies that he was able to lift up during his Manchester United reign mark him to some as the greatest player of any nationality to have played in the Premier League. To go with his near-high of 632 appearances Premier League appearances, he also scored 109 goals in the league.
His absence in international friendlies might leave a bitter taste to some, and his 64 apps and 12 goals is a poor reflection of his dynamic qualities. His Premier League greatness, however, can’t be denied and he’ll be hoping to make history as the man tasked with leading Wales to a second successive Euro tournament.