Updated: Jun 14, 2021
With Euro 2020 about to kick off Wales fans will no doubt be hoping for a repeat of the team’s fantastic 2016 campaign which saw them reach the semi-finals in their first major campaign since 1958.
As players and fans prepare for what will hopefully be another thrilling tournament, let’s take a look at what happened to the 23-man squad of 2016.
Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace)
Wales’ number one keeper will be hoping for another successful campaign as he travels to Baku with the 2020 squad. Since 2016, the Crystal Palace keeper has gone on to break Neville Southall’s record of 35 clean sheets in a Wales jersey.
Owain Fôn Williams (Dunfermline Athletic)
Now playing for Dunfermline, Owain Fôn Williams last made it into the Wales squad in 2020 where he was an unused sub in Wales’ UEFA Nations League game against Finland. Since 2016 he has been noted more for his skills with a brush than a ball thanks to his impressive oil painting skills. He even called to paint a portrait of Chris Gunter to commemorate his 100th cap for Wales.
Danny Ward (Leicester City)
The days of being the understudy goalkeeper may be coming to an end for Ward who has proven himself to be reliable between the posts. Having played for both Liverpool and now Leicester since 2016, his considerable experience will be a huge asset when playing at the 2020 tournament. Will he be able to add more silverware to go with his FA Cup Winner’s medal?
Chris Gunter (Charlton Athletic)
Since 2016 Gunter has continued to play consistently for Wales and back in March this year he became the first player to reach 100 caps for Wales. He may be spending more time on the bench than he did back in 2016 but he brings invaluable experience to the squad and should make an appearance on the pitch during the tournament.
Neil Taylor (Aston Villa)
Taylor scored a surprise goal in Wales’ 3-0 win over Russia during the group stage of the 2016 tournament as well as every minute of the finals. Following Euro 2016, he left the Swans for Aston Villa and has been there ever since. Taylor continued to be involved in Wales’ World Cup qualifying campaign and was involved in the Euro qualifiers, however withdrew from the squad in 2019 for ‘personal reasons’ and has not played since.
Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur)
The Spurs man will undoubtedly be part of the starting-11 at this year’s tournament. He gave fans a bit of a scare by picking up a shinbone injury earlier in the year but recovered in time for the tournament and even captained Wales in their friendly draw against Albania last month.
James Chester (Stoke City)
Chester became something of a fan-favourite at the 2016 competition thanks to his excellent defensive display. However with the emergence of young talent at centre back the 32-year-old hasn’t played for Wales since 2018 which may suggest that his days of wearing the red shirt are over.
Ashley Williams (retired)
The Swansea man had a blistering 2016 tournament, captaining the team and scoring the equaliser against Belgium in their iconic 3-1 quarter-final win. After the tournament he left the Swans to join Everton where he enjoyed the highs and lows of the Premier League (although never quite matching his Swansea form) before joining Bristol City. He hung up his boots in January 2021.
Jazz Richards (Haverfordwest County)
Richards continued to play for Wales right up to their World Cup Qualifying misery but injuries have hampered his game both internationally and in the league. The Swansea-born defender joined Cardiff(!) in 2016 but never managed to string more than 26 appearances together for the Bluebirds. Last year he joined Haverfordwest County in the Cymru Premier.
James Collins (retired)
Collins seemed to have been around forever before he eventually retired from international football in 2017 after 51 appearances. Collins continued to play for West Ham and later Ipswich before fully retiring from the game in 2020.
Joe Allen (Stoke City)
The Welsh Pirlo looked to miss Euro 2020 when ruptured his Achilles tendon but with the competition being postponed due to the pandemic, Allen was able to make a full recovery in time for the finals. He had a wonderful 2016 campaign and many fans will think that his talents are being wasted in the Championship so another good showing at the Euros might pique the interest of some Premier League sides.
Andy King (OH Leuven)
Andy King continued to play for Leicester after winning the Premier League with them in 2016. Loan spells at Swansea, Derby, Rangers and Huddersfield followed before he joined Belgian side OH Leuven in 2021. His Wales career grinded to a halt in 2018 but he still remains the holder of the most international caps for a Leicester player.
Aaron Ramsey (Juventus)
Since 2016 its fair to say that Rambo’s career went from strength to strength. He scored the FA Cup winner for Arsenal against rivals Chelsea in 2017 and netted his first career hattrick against Everton in 2018. In 2019 he made the huge move to Italian giants Juventus and is now a Serie A winner, Coppa Italia winner, and Supercoppa Italiana winner. He will be hoping to add Euro 2020 winner to his collection.
David Edwards (Bala Town)
Edwards retired from international football in 2018 and after recently expressing the desire to move to part-time he moved to Cymru Premier team Bala Town. In the meantime, Edwards has been working with a number of charities, including his own charity The Little Rascals Foundation aimed at helping children with disabilities.
Joe Ledley (Newport County)
Ledley is a long-standing servant to the Wales team with 77 caps, making him the eighth most-capped player for Wales. His final international game was in 2018 and since then he has been club-hopping joining Derby, Charlton, Newcastle Jets before playing last season at Newport County. With his contract up he will be a free agent once again.
Jonny Williams (Cardiff City)
Nicknamed ‘Joniesta’, Jonny Williams has cemented himself into the Wales squad and will be looking forward to his second European tournament. Following 2016 he underwent a number of different loan spells before settling in Charlton Athletic for two years. In 2021 he joined Championship side Cardiff – a good Euro tournament might ignite interest from other clubs.
David Vaughan (retired)
Vaughan retired from international following the Euro 2016 tournament where he was an unused sub. He made 42 appearances for Wales and has something of a forgotten hero vibe about him. He finally retired from football as a whole in 2019 and is now working as the manager of Crewe Alexandra’s youth team.
Hal Robson-Kanu (West Bromwich Albion)
Who could forget that wonder goal against Belgium? The goal that put Wales ahead in the quarter-finals in 2016 was nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award and cemented HRK as an all-time great of Welsh international football. Famously a free agent at the time of the last tournament, Robson-Kanu soon found a club to call home in the form of West Brom who kept him for another five years until he recently became a free agent once more in May 2021. Unlucky perhaps not to have made the final 23 if only for the thrill of seeing him attempt another beauty of a goal in the finals.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
As one of the best footballers in the world, Gareth Bale needs no introduction. Since 2016 he’s had his share of ups and downs, from scoring that overhead goal against Liverpool in the Champions League final to racking up injuries and the Madrid saga. Now on loan at Tottenham, Bale shows no sign of slowing down and his commitment to the national side remains second to none.
George Williams (Grimsby Town)
Another unused sub, Williams didn’t make much of an impact on the Euro 2016 tournament and his exclusion from the squad means he won’t make much of an impact this year either. Having spent a long time on and off at Fulham his most recent club is League 2 outfit Grimsby Town.
David Cotterill (Barry Town)
Following Euro 2016, Cotterill stayed at Birmingham City for another season before leaving for a brief loan at Bristol and a trip to play for India’s Kolkata-based team ATK. He retired from football in October 2018 but came out from retirement in 2020 to play for Cymru Premier side Barry Town on a part-time basis. In recent years Cotterill has also spoken about his struggles with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts over the course of his career.
Sam Vokes (Stoke City)
Vokes’ goal against Belgium was the sugar on top of the Welshcake at the quarter finals and is a moment that Welsh fans have replayed over and over. He was on the bench for most of this year’s qualifiers and although only 31, is likely to have to make way for the next generation of forwards now, which explains his exclusion from the final squad.
Simon Church (retired)
Injury hampered his career and Church retired in 2018 after making only two appearances for Plymouth Argyle. He did spend a year out in The Netherlands playing for Dutch side Roda JC Kerkrade, before returning to England to play for Scunthorpe.
Only eight of the 2016 squad return for this year’s tournament and following their last success, there will be a lot more pressure on Wales to deliver results. They don’t have the easiest group to get out of; Switzerland and Turkey will both be tough fixtures and Italy are always a force to be reckoned with, however the team will be confident and looking to go at least one step further than they did in 2016.
In a few years’ time Wales fans will hope that they can look back at this squad with the same pride as they did the class of 16.
by Trudi Edwards