Glyn Garner: From Welsh Leagues to Wales international to the Wellmen

Imagine making your international debut in the same game as Wales’ all-time record goalscorer Gareth Bale.

Well, that’s the story of Glyn Garner, who made his only Wales senior appearance against Wales’ opponents on Wednesday, Trinidad & Tobago. Arron Davies, Gareth Bale, Glyn Garner and Jason Brown all made their bow on the international stage out in Austria.

The 42-year-old made his one and only senior cap for Wales in a 2-1 win over the Soca Warriors in Austria, as the Caribbean side prepared for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Garner replaced the first debutant of the game Jason Brown, keeping a clean sheet after his introduction at the break.

Garner said: “If you look back it was a bit surreal in time. It was probably the most enjoyable thing for me.

“What I achieved I was chuffed to bits. I thought about what I achieved. It doesn’t seem much in the grand scheme of things but it’s more than enough for me.

“I got in the Welsh national team and I overachieved personally. At 16 and 17 I played local league football. I didn’t turn professional until I was 23.”

The Pontypool-born goalkeeper began his career with Cwmbran Town, before playing for Llanelli. From there he spent five years with Bury, before joining Leyton Orient after a pursuit from manager Martin Ling.

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From his performances with Orient, he earned a Wales call-up from John Toshack, who was working on a squad, after retirements of senior players like Robbie Savage and Ryan Giggs.

Garner though thought he was a victim of a prank from his friends when he heard of a potential Wales call-up: “It was quite funny. I was in a post office in Waltham Abbey and I thought my mates were winding me up. There was talk that I was potentially going to be in the Welsh squad.

His close friends made the trip to Austria, to watch Robert Earnshaw net a brace as Garner made his international debut with a victory.

“I thought it was my mates winding me up but there was John Toshack on the phone and it cascaded from there.

“It was funny walking off. Four of my friends drove over in a white transit van just to come to the game. I shared that with my friends. It was great, the time of my life. At the time you didn’t realise what was going on.

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Garner had already been exposed to senior football but at the same time, a young Gareth Bale was introduced to the Wales setup by John Toshack.

Bale has since gone on to win four Champions League trophies for Real Madrid and last year he became the all-time record goalscorer for his country after his hat-trick in China.

The former Shakers shot-stopper recalled the moment Gareth was introduced to the Wales senior squad.

“The first time he turned up to the squad was at San Sebastian. I remember us all sat down, John introduced himself and Gareth to everybody. He was a young kid.

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“I remember the first training session he played on the left and he was flying along. Every time he crossed it in he’d cross it past the goal line!

“You can see he moves so quickly and so quickly. He’s flourished himself and he’s flown on.

“He’s one of the definite legends of Welsh football.”

The 42-year old is still playing football now, despite reaching an age where many players would call time on their careers.

Garner has had 23 years in the game, playing for clubs like Bath City, Circenster and Merthyr Town, after departing from the professional game, but the motivation is still there.

The former O’s keeper is now donning the gloves for Welsh League side Taffs Well, who are at the foot of the table in a relegation battle.

“Football is a part of my everyday life. I’m grateful to be able to play at 42. I enjoy being with the lads and being out there on a Saturday afternoon.

“It’s a long time when you’re not playing, so you may make the most of it as you can.

“Coming back to it (Welsh League football), it’s a nice way to finish your career really. I’m still out there on a Saturday afternoon. 

“We’re working towards moving towards the league. We need to string a couple of wins together and we’ll be out of it.”

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A return to international football may be long gone for Garner, who has returned to where it all began in the Welsh League, but he still has high hopes for the international team.

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Wales’ 4-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland in September was one that stood out for the Coleg Gwent coach, who believes Wales can qualify for the European Championships.

“Certainly so,” replied Garner.

“Looking at the squad and the people we’ve got coming through. I remember watching Ryan Giggs’ home game I thought Wow’.

“It was a bit of a Manchester United imprint on the team. Hopefully, we can continue in that vein and get the whole country behind the team.”

Wales take on Trinidad & Tobago this Wednesday at the first fixture at the Racecourse Ground in eleven years as they prepare for their European Championship qualifying campaign, which begins on the 24th March at the Cardiff City Stadium against Slovakia.

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