There are many great players who have represented Cymru over the years, from Gareth Bale and current manager Ryan Giggs, to the legends of a bygone age like John Charles, as a nation we have been blessed with some exceptionally talented stars.

However, one of the biggest stars of his era was one of the first superstars of the game. Billy Meredith was as controversial as he was brilliant, and his story includes as much scandal off the field as it does does goals and moments of magic on it.

Meredith was born in Chirk in 1874. During the course of his playing career, he made over 300 appearances for Manchester City between 1894 and 1906, and then went on to make another 300 appearances for Manchester United. Still playing at the age of 49, he finished his career back at Manchester City having played over 700 games. He was an influential figure for Cymru between 1895 and 1920, scoring 11 goals in 48 games for his country.

A dedicated professional, Meredith didn't drink or smoke during an era when such vices were not only accepted but encouraged, but controversy was never far from Meredith and he was banned for a year in 1905 for his part in a match-fixing scandal. In addition, Meredith challenged the authorities of the time by campaigning to abolish the maximum wage for players, and also by organising the Players Union with a view to making formal challenges to the transfer and wage system that was in place.

During his career he won both the Welsh Cup with Chirk and the English FA Cup with both Manchester clubs. A pioneer on and off the field, Meredith set a high standard of professionalism that saw him regarded as one of the greatest players of that early era of the game, but it was his vision for the improving the working environment for professional players that portrays him as a figure in the game ahead of his time.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now