Grassroots NW chooses the Greatest North Wales Football XI ever (in our opinion)

Sport, Football, pic: 29th August 1988, Mercantile Credit Centenary Trophy, Neville Southall, Everton goalkeeper, Neville Southall played for Everton 1981-1998 and also won 92 Wales international caps between 1982-1998 (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

Neville Southall played for Everton 1981-1998 and also won 92 Wales international caps between 1982-1998 (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

If North Wales could put out its Greatest Football XI Ever who would be in it?

It’s something we put a lot of thought into and this is what we came up with (as well as a large number of honorable mentions).

What do you think? Send your Greatest North Wales XI’s to dave@nwsport.co.uk

GOALKEEPER

Neville Southall
Born: 16.9.1958

Neville Southall in Wales action (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

At his peak he was rated among the best goalkeepers in the world.
Llandudno-born Southall won 92 caps for Wales and is No 1 on the list of most competitive appearances for Everton (750) and most league games (578).
With the Toffees he won two Football League titles (1984-85, 1986-87) , two FA Cups (1983-84, 1994-95) and the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1984-85).
He has been named as one of the 100 ‘Greatest Players of the 20th Century’ by World Soccer magazine.
In the 1996 Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to football.
Since retiring from football, he has proved to be as big a star off the field as he was on it.
Southall has worked extensively with disadvantaged children, and set up his own educational consultancy.
He is active on social media as a supporter of various charitable causes and LGBT rights, and has handed over his Twitter account to people from marginalised groups and organisations that work to support them, in order to give them a platform to answer questions from the public, including members of the LGBT community, a drugs helpline, a suicide bereavement charity, and a sex workers’ collective.

Honourable mentions: Wayne Hennessey, Paul Jones, Leigh Roose, Eddie Niedźwiecki.

DEFENDERS

Stuart Williams
Born: 9.7.1930. Died: 5.11.2013

Wrexham-born Williams played for Wales on 43 occasions, including all their group stage matches at the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden.
Wales met Brazil in the quarter-finals, going out 1-0 to a goal from Pelé, who later praised Williams in his autobiography “My Life and the Beautiful Game”, written in 1977.
After a brief spell at Wrexham, Williams joined West Bromwich Albion, where he made his debut as a centre-forward before switching, firstly to wing-half, then settling into the full-back position.
He remained at The Hawthorns for 12 years, making 226 league appearances, scoring six goals.
Williams saw out his career at Southampton, helping them secure promotion to the top flight for the first time in his final season of 1965-66.

Joey Jones
Born: 4.3.1955

A legend at both Wrexham and Liverpool, this strong-tackling left-back appeared 72 times for Wales.
Wrexham’s most-capped player, he remains the subject of the club’s biggest ever transfer fee paid – £210,000 to Liverpool in October 1978 (this might change in the near future!).
Jones won the European Cup with Liverpool in 1977 and 1978, as well as the First Division title in 1976-77, plus the UEFA Cup in 1975-76.
He made 376 appearances for Wrexham and 100 in all competitions for Liverpool.

Tommy (TG) Jones
Born: 12.10.1917. Died: 3.1.2004

Born in Queensferry and raised in Connah’s Quay, T G Jones established himself as an Everton great either side of the Second World War.
He signed for the Merseyside blues from Wrexham for £3,000 in 1936.
Jones won a Football League First Division champions medal in only his second full season at Everton in 1938-39, before his career was interrupted by the Second World War.
He served as a sergeant PT Instructor in the RAF during the war, but resumed his career for Everton in 1946. A.S. Roma successfully bid £15,000 for him, but foreign exchange regulations stopped the transfer.
After falling out with the management, in January 1950 Jones accepted an offer to leave Everton for Pwllheli. In all he made 178 peacetime appearances for Everton, scoring five goals.
He later managed Bangor City, leading them to a famous 2-0 first leg win over Napoli in the 1962-63 European Cup Winners’ Cup. City eventually lost the tie following a third game.

Kevin Ratcliffe
Born: 12.11.1960

Mancot-born Ratcliffe earned 59 caps for Wales between 1981-93, often as captain.
Capable of operating as a central defender or at left-back, Ratcliffe is fifth in the all-time list of Everton appearance makers on 494. He played for the club at senior level from 1980-92.
In 1983, at the age of 23, he was made captain, just as the club began a highly successful spell.
As skipper, Ratcliffe won the 1984 FA Cup Final, Football League Championship in 1984-85 and 1986-87 and the Cup Winners’ Cup 1984-85.

Honorable mentions: Mike England, Terry Hennessey, Gareth Roberts, Neil Taylor, Graham Evan Williams

MIDFIELDERS

Barry Horne
Born: 18.5.62

Barry Horne and Mark Hughes (who is featured in strikers category). (Photo by Howard Walker/Paul Mealey/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

Much-travelled midfielder who probably hit his peak while at Everton between 1992-96.
Between 1984-87 he was a stand-out performer at Wrexham.
While at the Racecourse, he was responsible for one of the most memorable moments in the club’s history, a vital away goal in a 4-3 defeat against Porto in the first round of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup in October 1984.
Wrexham had won the first leg 1-0, and Horne’s 89th-minute strike ensured that they progressed to the second round of the competition, where they lost to Roma.
Horne’s most famous goal in an Everton shirt came on the final day of the 1993-94 season against Wimbledon.
The Toffees had to win to survive relegation. Horne’s goal, a 30-yard screamer, levelled the scores at 2-2. Graham Stuart would go on to score the winning goal to secure Everton’s Premiership status.
School teacher Horne also played for Portsmouth, Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Birmingham City, Sheffield Wednesday and Walsall.
He won 59 caps for Wales, is a former chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association and now a sports television pundit.

Billy Meredith
Born: 30.7.1874. Died: 19.4.1958

Billy Meredith of Manchester United in action during the first ever FA Charity Shield match against Queens Park Rangers. Following a 1-1 draw, United won 4-0 in the replay. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Meredith was considered one of the early superstars of football due to his performances, notably for Manchester City and Manchester United.
He won each domestic trophy in the English Football League and gained 48 caps for Wales, for whom he scored 11 goals and won two British Home Championship titles.
His favoured position was outside right, and his key skills were dribbling, passing, crossing and shooting.
Born in Chirk, he played for his hometown club before joining Northwich Victoria, and then went on to star for City and United, making in excess of 300 appearances for both.

Gary Speed
Born: 8.9.1969 Died: 27.11.2011

Gary Speed was a versatile player who could play left midfield, central midfield, and also at left-back.
However, he was mainly a left-sided attacking midfielder, and a wonderful header of the ball.
He possessed great tactical awareness, and could both create and score goals. Regularly a captain, he was an inspirational figure who led by example and demanded the best from those around him.
Speed’s greatest moment as a player was winning the 1991-92 Football League Division One title with Leeds United, playing alongside Gordon Strachan, David Barry and Gary McAllister in the midfield.
Mancot-born Speed made 677 league appearances across five clubs – Leeds, Everton, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers.
He was capped 85 times for Wales, scoring seven goals.
Speed later managed Wales, and the team was very much on the up when on November 27, 2011, the nation woke up to the heartbreaking news their manager had taken his own life.

Mickey Thomas
Born: 7.7.1954

Manchester United player Michael Thomas pictured at the photocall ahead of the 1980/81 season at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. (Photo by Duncan Raban/Allsport/Getty Images)

With 54 Wales caps to his credit, the Mochdre Magician had a long and eventful football career.
Between 1972-78 he was at Wrexham and returned to the club from 1991-93, scoring from a famous free kick in the Dragons’ unforgettable 2-1 FA Cup win against mighty Arsenal in January 1992.
Mainly a winger, Mickey also represented top flight clubs Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea, Brighton & Hove Albion, West Brom and Leeds United, as well as Stoke City.
He won the Football League Third Division title with Wrexham in 1977-78, was an FA Cup runner-up with Manchester United in 1978-79 and was in the Chelsea squad which landed the 1983-84 Second Division championship.
In his later career, he turned out for Amlwch Town and Porthmadog and is now a respected football pundit.

Honorable mentions: Arfon Griffiths, Dick Krzywicki, Robbie Savage, David Vaughan, Harry Wilson, Owain Tudur Jones.

STRIKERS

Ian Rush

Born: 20.10.1961

Ian Rush of Liverpool (Photo by Dan Smith/Getty Images)

Flint lad Ian was the ninth of 10 children born to Francis and Doris Rush in St Asaph on October 20, 1961.
He holds the distinction of being Liverpool FC’s all-time record goalscorer, having netted a total of 346 times in all competitions at the club.
Rush played for Liverpool from 1980-1987 and 1988-1996, winning five First Division titles, three FA Cups, five League Cups and the European Cup twice, in 1981 and 1984. He was voted PFA Player of the Year in 1984.
At international level, Rush made 73 appearances for the Wales national football team and remained the record goalscorer for his country until 2018, with 28 goals between 1980 and 1996. A deadly finisher, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers of his generation.

Mark Hughes

Born: 1.11.1963

Manchester United striker Mark Hughes gets past Gary McAllister of Leeds (Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images)

Ruabon-born Hughes both played for and managed his country.
During his playing career he usually operated as a forward or midfielder, and was most noted for two spells at Manchester United, but he also played for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, as well as the English clubs Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and finally Blackburn Rovers.
He also made 72 appearances for Wales scoring 16 goals.
A strong, ruthless tackler, he had a penchant for hitting spectacular goals for club and country.
Hughes retired from playing in 2002 having won a host of winners’ medals during his playing career, including two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and two European Cup Winners’ Cups.
“Sparky” was the first player to win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award twice, in 1989 and 1991.
Hughes was a national manager before being in charge of a club side.
He was boss of Wales between 1999-2004, winning just 12 out of 41 internationals.
Hughes later managed Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City and Southampton.

Honorable mentions: Ron Davies, Wyn Davies, Roy Vernon, Malcolm Allen, Iwan Roberts, Ched Evans.

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