65. Ivor Allchurch
One of Wales’ most talented and successful football players, Ivor Allchurch began his career at his home town club Swansea Town in 1949. Despite spending a lot of his playing career outside of top division football, he achieved a reputation as one of the most skillful forwards in Britain during the 1950s as well as enjoying a successful international career with Wales.
During his nine year first spell with Swansea, Allchurch played in the English Second Division but made such an immediate impact that he found himself in the Welsh senior team. Making his international debut in November 1950, just a month past his twenty-first birthday, he would go on to set a Welsh appearance that would stand for several decades, as well as sharing in a goalscoring record since beaten only by Ian Rush.
In 1958, after initially failing to qualify, Wales beat Israel in a play-off to reach a major international tournament for the first time at the World Cup in Sweden. Ivor Allchurch proved to be one of the stars of a team that surprised many around the world by reaching the quarter-finals. He scored two goals in five games, including a crucial equaliser in a play-off with 1954 runners-up Hungary which helped Wales through to the next stage, where they were beaten only 1-0 by eventual winners Brazil.
Following the World Cup, Allchurch’s abilities were finally recognised by a big club and he had the opportunity to play at the highest level in England for the first time when he signed for Newcastle United. Spending four years at Newcastle, he scored 46 league goals before returning to Wales in 1962 to play for Swansea’s fierce rivals Cardiff City.
In 1965 he returned to Swansea for a second spell, but by the late 1960s the club had fallen into the lower division of the English league. After a three-year second spell at Swansea, Allchurch’s playing career came to an end in 1968, but with 166 league goals for Swansea he remains today their all-time record league goalscorer. He died in 1997, aged 67.