Born in Swansea in October 1923, Trevor Ford was one of the best strikers of his generation, with Sunderland breaking the British transfer record to take him from Aston Villa for 30,000 in 1950. 

"I think I shall settle down and not let this £30,000 tag worry me,” said Ford at the time. “But at the moment I hope someone else soon takes over as the costliest player in the game.” While his performances and goals for Swansea Town and Villa had prompted Sunderland to invest in his services, his talent was also obvious from his consistent displays in the colours of Cymru.

Scoring 23 goals in 38 appearances for his country between 1946 and 1956, Ford scored his only hat-trick for Cymru in a convincing 5-1 victory over Belgium at Ninian Park in November 1949. Roy Paul opened the scoring after 18 minutes before Ford claimed the first of his treble six minutes later. Roy Clarke and Ford added another two goals before half-time, and Ford completed his hat-trick after 49 minutes. Belgium added a late consolation when Rik Coppens converted from the penalty spot in the final moments. The two teams had met earlier in the year in Liège, and while Ford was again on target, Cymru slipped to a 3-1 reverse.

But for his all his talent, a controversial revelation in his 1956 autobiography resulted in his suspension from the British game. Exposing an illegal-payment system from his time at Sunderland that enabled the club to circumvent the maximum wage limit with other incentives, his suspension ultimately meant that he would not be part of the Cymru squad at the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Moving abroad to continue his career in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven, he remained there for three years, but eventually made the switch to Newport County in 1960 upon winning a legal case against his suspension. However, his best years were now behind him.

A strong, physical striker, Ford was also a natural goalscorer and delivered a consistent return throughout his club and international career. With John Charles injured for the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil, it does ask the question if Ford could have been the perfect replacement. However, Ford never regretted publishing his claims against his former club. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 79, and Ian Rush, the man who eclipsed his Cymru goalscoring record, paid tribute to the striker.

“I never saw him play but my father did and he told me what a great player he was,” said Rush. “But more than that he was a true gentleman. I met him a few times and I remember the night I got the record - against Belgium in Cardiff - Trevor made a point of coming over to me after the game. He shook my hand and said, 'Well done.' That was the mark of the man. It was always nice to break records as a player but it was very special to break a record of Trevor's. His death is very sad news for the whole of Welsh football.”

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