With a population of less than three million people, dominance in the world football arena has always been a tough task for Wales. The Welsh have been blessed with a number of supremely gifted individuals over the years but have never had a generation of players capable of mounting a serious challenge for international honours.
The closest they came was in 1958, when a side containing the greatest Welsh player of all, John Charles, won a place at the World Cup in Sweden. Wales far from disgraced themselves at the tournament, beating Hungary to progress from their group to the second round. Unfortunately for them their second round opponents were the eventual winners Brazil, who had a little known player called Pele in their ranks. He scored the only goal of the game to knock the Welsh out of the tournament.
Since then Wales have been close to qualifying for the World Cup on numerous occasions, missing out on goal difference in 1982 and in their final match in 1994. Ten years later Mark Hughes' side went agonizingly close to reaching Euro 2004, losing in a play-off with Russia.
Although their players may not have set the international stage alight, a number of Welsh stars have made a huge impact on European club football. John Toshack, Ian Rush and Ryan Giggs have all lifted the European Cup with their club sides. John Charles was such a huge success when he moved to Italy with Juventus that not only did he help them to three league titles but in 1997 was voted the greatest foreign player ever to have graced the club, ahead of such luminaries as Michel Platini.
John Toshack is now setting about building a new Welsh squad based around young talents like Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Ledley.