World Cup Swans: Mel Charles
As the 2018 World Cup draws closer, the official website takes a look back at the players who have turned out for the Swans and played on the biggest stage of all.
Today we focus on Mel Charles.
Mel Charles made more than 250 appearances for Swansea Town after turning professional with his hometown club at the age of 17.
The versatile Charles, who could play as a defender or up front, also turned out for Arsenal, Cardiff City and Port Vale, as well as Porthmadog, Oswestry Town and Haverfordwest.
Charles earned 31 Wales caps, netting six times, and became only the third Welshman to score four goals in a single match when he achieved the feat against Northern Ireland in 1962.
Like his brother John, Mel holds the honour of having never been booked or sent off during his career. His son Jeremy also played for the Swans and Wales.
AT THE SWANS
Born in Swansea in 1935, Charles started out at his hometown club and, following a brief spell in the youth ranks at Leeds, returned before signing a professional contract in 1952.
He made his debut against Sheffield United that December. Charles was a right-half by trade but was handy up front, too – notably scoring four goals in a game against Blackburn Rovers in 1956, as well as hat-tricks against Stoke City, Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday two years later.
Overall, he made 262 appearances for the Swans in all competitions, scoring 73 goals.
AT THE WORLD CUP
Charles was named in Jimmy Murphy’s 22-man squad for Wales’ first and only appearance at the World Cup finals in 1958.
He was an ever-present for the Dragons in their draws with Hungary, Mexico and Sweden, as well as the 2-1 win over the Hungarians in the Group 3 play-off.
Charles also played the full 90 minutes in the quarter-final defeat by Brazil as Welsh hearts were broken by a 17-year-old Pele, who later described Charles as the best centre-half of the tournament.