Whatever happened to to the Welsh international Owen Hargreaves?

30 08 2013

In the hours before Nantporth’s Under 21 international I reasoned that we had an excellent chance of seeing the first steps of a new footballing god. These thoughts came to me because I have a good record of seeing would-be world-class players like Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale in age-group internationals north Wales

About fifteen minutes before kick off Brian popped up to the club shop with a stack of programmes, someone in the FAW was willing to offer the stack for a copy of our book about the history of Farrar Road. I looked through the stack and noticed mementoes of some of the greatest hours in Welsh Football; Wales v Romania in 1993, Wales v Norway in 1994 and Wales v Georgia in 1996. A quality publication for that little lot was hardly a fair swap but there you go.

I flicked through the programmes on the way home and noticed the yin of hope was complemented by the yang of disappointment. The lists of potential football greats had become a list of unknowns. When I read the names I heard the delivery of bad news to buoyant young men “Look son, I’m sorry but……”,

When you watch age group internationals you can’t help but wonder about the futures that may befall the players. Logically all of the players should make it as professionals; they are the best 16 or 17 players that a country can gather together. However logic doesn’t always apply to football development. When I got home and had a look through my collection of Wales programmes I found lots of evidence to support an absence of logic.

Sometimes a squad supports logic, like this Wales U21s line-up from 2008, (The player highlighted by blue arrow, Rhoys Wiggins, is the only one that hasn’t won a full international cap)

U21 -2008b

or this RCS line-up from 1993;

U21S - 1993 (2)

Unfortunately these are exceptions. Usually most of the players don’t make it as professionals, especially for Wales . Sometimes as many as four make it as pros (U19s- 1998)

(The players that made it as pros are highlighted by yellow arrows);

U19 - 1996

Sometimes it’s a trio (U15s 1980);

U15s - 1980

Sometimes it’s only a couple (Oster and Bellamy, U17s 1996 – U17s 2006 – Youth 1971);

Youth - 1996 (2)

U17s - 2006

Youth - 1971

Sometimes there’s a singular player that goes on to be a world star, like Giggs or Bale (Wales Youth 1991, U17s 2005);

Youth - 1991

U17s - 2005

Unfortunately there are some squads where none of the players make it;

TEN 19990001

What happened to Jason Donovan, Kristian Dimond or Michael Price? What happened to  the guy on the far left of this squad, the one with a red arrow above his head, in the Darwinian world of professional football? His name is Michael Pattimore if that helps.

Youth - 1996 (2)

It’s easier to work out what happened to other players. Take the other guy with a red arrow above his head, He’s Lee Phillips and he’s been playing in the Welsh Premier League.

I noticed that some recognisable WPL players had featured in various age group Welsh squads. For example Ricky Evans played in the same U18s side as Carl Robinson in 1996;

(All the players that have played for Bangor City have a blue arrow)


Several of the 1998 U18s side , including the “enigmatic” Lee Kendall and the Manchester United injury victim Rhodri Jones, ended up in the WPL after playing with Jermaine Easter and Rob Earnshaw;

NINE 19990001

One U21s squad from 1995 had 3 future WPL managers in it, Lee Jones, Deryn Brace and Alun Morgan (highlighted by white arrows). Incidentally that Gavin Allen (Blue Arrow on the left)  is Malcolm’s brother and Craig Lawton (Black arrow) ended up playing for Colwyn Bay and Llandudno;


There were several squads where most of the players, including player/manager/wannabee referee Neil Gibson, ended up in the WPL (U21s squads from 2000 & 2002)

u21s - 2000

U21s- 2002

It’s interesting to see that the trends of “failure” are universal, how many of that Italy squad are household names, or even still in the Italian squads? 

Even more interestingly some squads have featured players from the WPL;

ONE0002 (2)

TWO0002 (2)

U21s - 1996

Incidentally, David Hughes (Red arrow) became Barry manager at the age of 26.

Welsh age-group squads have also featured two examples of players that changed their nationality in order to play in world cups; Owen Hargreaves and Rhys Williams were Welsh in 1998 and 2008 respectively;

U18s - 1998

U21 -2008a

When I think of age-group squads I always end up coming back to the same question; why did some players make it whereas some didn’t. Look at this U21s squad from 1995;

U21s - 1995

What extra qualities did Savage possess that Alun Morgan didn’t? Was it an injury? Let’s look at this squad again;

U17s - 2005Why is Neil Taylor in the premier league but Mika Chunuonsee isn’t? Why has Gareth Bale been termed the most expensive player in the world whereas Carl Jones stopped being a professional footballer six months after this squad? (He signed for Bangor).  As the man once said, “It makes you think!!!”




10 responses

30 08 2013
Leon Barton

Great piece by the way.

30 08 2013

I tried to find that but couldn’t, thanks!

30 08 2013
Aaron (@Aaron_H_)

Mika Chunuonsee – mentioned towards the end of the article – went on to play professional football in Thailand. He’s currently at Suphanburi FC in the Thai Premier League, after spells with three or four other Thai sides.

There’s an article on him by Media Wales from 2009 here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/mika-jetting-start-new-life-2120624

30 08 2013

Thanks for the update!

30 08 2013

Thanks for the correction – 1 cap in 2010

30 08 2013
dylan roberts (@llan4)

Carl Jones now currently playing for Nefyn in the Welsh Alliance

30 08 2013
Leon Barton


30 08 2013
Leon Barton

Pretty sure Shaun Macdoanly has actually played once (maybe twice?) for Wales actually. Which just leaves Wiggins from that team.

30 08 2013

Updated now!

30 08 2013
Matthew Shooman (@MattShooman)

you missed Scott Williams in your “played for Bangor” in your U21 for ’95 pic

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