Swans and Dragons: Dai Davies

20th February

In a regular website feature, we look back at former Swansea City players who have also turned out for Wales at full international level.

Throughout his 16-year professional career, goalkeeper Dai Davies had a seemingly inseparable link with Swansea City.

Davies made his first-team debut for the Swans away to Chesterfield on the final day of the 1969-70 season, and lined up in eight league matches at the start of the following campaign as the club embarked on a record-equalling 19-game unbeaten run.

The shot-stopper moved to Everton in 1970 but returned to the Vetch on loan just over three years later, playing a further six league games for the Swans.

He then re-signed permanently from Wrexham in 1981 and made 71 league appearances in his third and final spell in South Wales, before leaving for Tranmere Rovers two years later.

Another lasting connection throughout Davies’ career was with the Welsh national team.

Having represented the Dragons at schoolboy level, he also won four caps for the under-23 side before spending seven years in the senior squad.

Shortly before he made his switch from the Swans to Everton, he kept a clean sheet for the under-23s in a goalless draw with England at the Racecourse, where the home side included future Wales and Swans managers Terry Yorath and John Toshack in their starting XI.

Davies’ debut for the Welsh senior side came against Hungary in April 1975, with Toshack and John Mahoney scoring in a 2-1 win in Budapest.

It was the start of an incredible run that would see the goalkeeper miss just six of Wales’ next 57 internationals between 1975 and 1982, while his first international clean sheet came in a 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland in the British Home Championships the following year.

Wales were runners-up in the British Home Championships in three consecutive years between 1977 and 1979.

Davies played in all nine fixtures during that time and keeping five clean sheets, with his most notable one coming in the Dragons’ memorable 1-0 victory over England at Wembley.

When Davies started in the 2-0 success over Scotland at Vetch Field in May 1981, he made history by becoming his nation’s most-capped goalkeeper.

After finishing on 52 caps, his record has since been surpassed by two goalkeepers in current number one Wayne Hennessey and the legendary Neville Southall, who still holds the national appearance record with 92 caps between 1982 and 1997.

Davies’ final appearance for Wales came in a 4-4 draw against Yugoslavia in December 1982 – one of eight caps earned while under contract with the Swans.

He conceded just 51 goals during seven years between the sticks for his country.

Of his 354 appearances in the Football League, 153 came in the top flight, with the Ammanford-born stopper playing 82 First Division matches for Everton between 1970 and 1977, and 71 in his third spell with the Swans between 1981 and 1983.

As well as holding the distinction of being the first goalkeeper to represent the Swans in the top division, he was named the club’s joint-player of the year along with Robbie James in 1981.

Davies’ last appearances in the Football League came with Tranmere Rovers during the 1983-84 season, when he played 42 times in the Fourth Division.

Despite announcing his retirement soon after, he returned to the game to represent Bangor City in the 1985-86 European Cup Winners’ Cup, notably saving a penalty against Spanish giants Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.

Later that season, Davies returned to Wrexham to appear in their Welsh Cup ties and, having previously won the competition with them in 1978 and with the Swans four years later, he lifted the trophy for a third time as the Dragons beat Kidderminster Harriers in the final.

He finally hung up his gloves for good during the 1986-87 campaign and, these days, runs a natural health clinic in Llangollen, as well as working as a Welsh-speaking football pundit for S4C.