- Wales national under-21 football team
European national under-21 football team
Name = Wales U21
Badge = Wales_FA.png
Nickname = Young Dragons
Football Association of Wales
Coach = flagicon|WAL
Most caps = James Thomas
Top scorer =
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First game = Wales 0-2 England U21, 1976 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7365340.stm "Wales U21 0-2 England U21"]
BBC SportRetrieved on 16 May, 2008]
Largest win = Wales 6-2 Cyprus
Largest loss = Italy 8-1 Wales
Pavia, September 5 2003
UEFAu21Champ apps = None
UEFAu21Champ first = n/a
UEFAu21Champ best = 3rd of 5 in Qual.
group, 1996The Wales national under-21 football team is the national under-21 football team of
Walesand is controlled by the Football Association of Wales. The team competes in the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, held every two years.
The national under-21 team is the highest level of youth football in Wales, and is open to any players who were born in Wales or whose parents or grandparents were born in Wales.
The current manager is
Brian Flynn, most famous for managing Welsh club sides playing in the English league: Wrexham and Swansea City. He also had previously coached the Under-21 team for a while in the early nineties.
Some of the most successful players to emerge from the under-21 team recently have been
Lewin Nyatanga, Derby County's Young Player of the Year for 2005-06, left-sided player Gareth Baleof Tottenham Hotspur and Neil Eardleyof Oldham. All three players are defenders.
In recent decades, the team has been viewed by the Welsh national management as more of a hole to be filled than a team to be used to nurture young international players, many of the great Welsh players of recent years having not spent long in the under-21 team.
Ryan Giggsonly made one appearance for the under-21 team before making his senior debut against Germany the next day.
More recently however, Wales's current manager,
John Toshackand youth manager Brian Flynn have been seen to use the U21 team for the purpose of creating a pool of youthful Welsh talent. The team can now boast a much better tracking system of young Welsh players, and has seen a marked improvement in players and their playing. Recent performances have seen them achieve big wins against Estonia (5-1), Northern Ireland (4-0) and France (4-2).
On 15 May 2008, they played a friendly against England U21's to mark the 100th match in the history of the side, losing 2-0.
A 3-0 victory against Romania in September 2008 meant that the Under-21 side finished top of their qualifying group for the first time in their history. It meant Wales would go into a two-legged play-off in October 2008 for a place in the finals of the 2009 UEFA U-21 Championship to be played in
Wales' squad for the 2009 European Under-21 Championship qualification play-off against England on 10 October and 14 October 2008 was announced on 26 September 2008. Arsenal midfielder
Aaron Ramseyis included in the squad, as are Jack Collisonand captain Joe Jacobson, who are returning from injury, but Rhys Williams is unavailable through injury, while Wayne Hennessey, Lewin Nyatanga, Chris Gunter, Gareth Bale, Joe Ledley, Ched Evansand Sam Vokeshave been named in the senior squad for their matches against Liechtenstein and Germany on 11 October and 15 October 2008. [cite news |title=Ramsey named in Wales U21 squad |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7635600.stm |publisher=BBC Sport |date=2008-09-26 |accessdate=2008-09-26 ]
"Caps and goals are accurate as of the match played on 9 September 2008. Ages as of 10 October 2008."
* [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/Under21 UEFA Under-21 website] Contains full results archive
* [http://www.rsssf.com/tablese/europe-u21.html The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation] Contains full record of U-21/U-23 Championships.
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