Where are they now? – Wales u21s 5-1 Luxembourg u21s

Ten years ago today Brian Flynn’s u21 team hosted their Luxembourg counterparts at Llanelli’s Parc y Scarlets in a 2011 European Championships qualifier, recording their biggest ever win.

In a blog originally featured on Parallel Cymru, Matthew Jones looks back at the lineup and their careers since. The blog is available in Welsh here [link].

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According to Brian Flynn Wales had four days earlier “played better in Luxembourg [but] couldn’t score”. In the return game right-back Neal Eardley opened the scoring with a penalty after Joe Allen was fouled. Jonathan Brown added a second just a minute later. Leicester City midfielder Andy King made it 3-0 before Reading striker Simon Church added a fourth before half-time. Luxembourg got on the score sheet through substitute Ben Polidori in the second half before Brian Flynn’s side grabbed a fifth through James Wilson. Here are the match details.

Here’s a look at how the players’ careers developed:

Chris Maxwell
Goalkeeper Maxwell was called into the senior Welsh side during the build-up to Euro 2016. From a club perspective, he left Wrexham to join Fleeetwood Town in 2012 and in 2016 signed for Championship side Preston North End. Currently on loan at Charlton Athletic.

Neil Taylor
The St Asaph-born left-back joined Swansea City from Wrexham in 2010. After six seasons in the Premier League, he joined Championship side Aston Villa in 2016. Taylor was an integral member of the Wales senior side that reached the Euro 2016 semi-final. But has since lost his place in Ryan Giggs’s squads.

Neal Eardley
Llandudno-born Eardley was already a full international prior to the Luxembourg encounter. He made 16 appearances for the senior side from 2007 until 2011. He started his career with Oldham Athletic before joining Blackpool where he played a full part in their 2010-11 Premier league season. He joined Birmingham City in 2013 where injuries wrecked his career; he made only 34 appearances in four seasons. Currently rebuilding his career at Lincoln City, with whom he won the EFL trophy in 2018.

Rhys Williams
A national traitor. Made ten appearances for the Wales under-21 side before choosing to play for Australia. He was called-up to the Wales senior squad but then-manager John Toshack didn’t have the tactical intelligence to cap him. He actually made a senior appearance for Australia against Wales in Cardiff where he was booed by the home fans. Now playing in Saudi Arabia.

Aaron Morris
Having joined Cardiff City as a youth player, he made his club debut in the FAW Premier Cup against Welshpool Town. He later played for sides including Aldershot Town and Gillingham. Morris could play in both defence and midfield. The Luxembourg match was his first of eight appearances for Wales under-21.

Andy King
In 2016, Leicester City’s King became the fourth Welshman to win the English Premier League. He had previously won the Championship in 2014 and League One in 2009. He was Leicester City Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011 and is Leicester’s top-scoring midfielder of all time. He scored Wales Under-21’s third goal against Luxembourg and ironically scored his first senior international goal against the same country, at the same venue, resulting in the same score line a year later.

Jonathan Brown
Bridgend-born Brown’s career has seen him clock up the air miles. He started with Cardiff City before plying his trade in countries such as Australia, Thailand, Bangladesh and the USA. In 2016, he won the Bangladesh Premier League with Abahani Limited Dhaka.

Shaun MacDonald
Swansea City-product MacDonald made a record 25 appearances for Wales under-21s. He gained a shock first senior cap in 2010 against Switzerland. He made an appearance in the Manic Street Preachers video for Wales’ official Euro 2016 song Together Stronger (C’mon Wales), proving that not every sportsman can look natural jumping up and down. He won the Football League Championship with Bournemouth in 2015 but the Premier League was a step too-far and he returned to the Championship with Wigan Athletic in 2016.

Joe Allen
Will go down in history as one of the greatest Welshmen of all time. He was named Welsh Footballer of the Year in 2012 and in 2016 was selected for the UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament. He was a crucial member of the Swansea City team that gained promotion to the Premier League in 2011 before transferring to Liverpool for £15 million a year later. He joined Stoke City for a bargain £13 million in 2016. Other legendary players with skill and vision such as Spain’s Xavi and Italy’s Andrea Pirlo have been compared as ‘poor-man’ versions of Allen.

Mark Bradley
Played his club career for Walsall and Rotherham United. Bradley made a single senior Wales appearance in May 2010 against Croatia as a 57th minute replacement for Brian Stock. His playing career was cut short due to injuries but returned to Walsall in 2017 as a strength and conditioning coach.

Simon Church
Scored eight goals in 15 Wales under-21 appearances. Earned the first of 38 senior caps two months after the Luxembourg under-21 encounter. The striker scored three senior international goals and was a member of Wales’ Euro 2016 squad. He spent the majority of his career with Reading but also played for clubs including Charlton Athletic, Aberdeen and Roda JC Kerkrade. Following his retirement from football in 2018, he has set up a business providing investment advice to professional athletes.

Used substitutes:

Joe Partington
Made his under-21 debut as a 46th minute substitute for Andy King, the first of eight appearances. The defender made over 50 appearances for Bournemouth before joining National League side Eastleigh in 2015. He joined Bristol Rovers in January 2017.

James Wilson
The Bristol City defender came on for Rhys Williams in the 56th minute. He gained three under-21 caps before making his senior debut against Belgium in 2013, his only cap to date. He left The Robins in 2014 to join Oldham Athletic where he chalked up a century of league appearances. He joined Sheffield United in 2016 then Lincoln City in 2017. While on loan at Brentford, he won a League Two title in 2008-09.

Nathan Craig
Brian Flynn’s final substitution. Craig replaced Joe Allen in the 62nd minute. The Everton product returned to hometown club Caernarfon Town in 2011. After a season in North Wales the midfielder moved to Torquay United. He returned to The Oval in 2014.

Unused substitutes:

Grant Basey
A product of the Charlton Athletic Academy. The left-back made over 50 appearances for the Addicks before then-manager Phil Parkinson released him in 2010 to free up money to bring in a striker. He stopped playing professionally at the age of 24 due to knee ligament damage but went on to play non-league football for clubs such as Ebbsfleet United and Cray Wanderers. He returned to Charlton as a coach for some of the junior teams and in 2018 became the club kitman.

Jake Taylor
Taylor started his career in the Reading youth system. He was on the books with The Royals until 2016 before signing for Exeter City. The midfielder won his only cap as an 84th minute substitute for club-mate Hal Robson-Kanu in a 2-1 victory over Cyprus in 2014.

Jonathan North
The goalkeeper left Watford in 2009 to join Wealdstone. With over 300 games under his belt he signed a contract extension with the club in 2018. Became a freelance journalist and in 2015 returned to Vicarage Road as a communications officer which he balances with his semi-professional footballing career.

Lloyd James
James made ten under-21 appearances. He started his career with Southampton as a defender or midfielder, then later moved on to clubs including Leyton Orient and Exeter City. In 2018, he signed for Forest Green Rovers.

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