Paul Pogba, Gerard Pique and other world-famous footballers who have played in North Wales

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North Wales is an area with a rich footballing heritage and the region has produced several top-class players over the years.

From Neville Southall to Mark Hughes, Ian Rush to Gary Speed, the northern part of our country has punched well above its weight in terms of producing world-class footballing talent.

However, in this article we will look at the non-Welsh world-renowned superstars who have played in North Wales at some time in their career.

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique has gone on to become a legend of the game, winning most of the major honours world football has to offer such as the World Cup, Champions League, Premier League and multiple La Liga titles.

© Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique have spent much of their careers together

He is best known for being a member of the all-conquering Barcelona and Spain teams of the late 2000s and early 2010s but in 2004 whilst he was a youngster coming through the ranks at Manchester United he played a friendly match for the Old Trafford club’s reserve side at Llangefni Town FC.

The match was arranged in order to raise funds for improvements to Llangefni’s Talwrn Road ground (now named Cae Bob Parry) and attracted a large crowd.

Paul Pogba

© MIKE SMITH Paul Pogba keeps tabs on Bangor City icon Les Davies during Manchester United’s friendly at Farrar Road in 2011

Another World Cup winner, Frenchman Paul Pogba was also the world’s most expensive footballer when he returned to Manchester United from Juventus in 2016, but he was a teenager when he played for United in a friendly at Bangor City’s old Farrar Road ground in 2011. The game finished 3-1 to the Red Devils in a match that also featured current United star Jesse Lingard.

George Best

© Mirrorpix George Best in his prime at Manchester United

Perhaps one of the greatest players in the history of the game, George Best at his peak was considered by many to be better than even Pele. The Northern Irishman played in a testimonial for Wrexham AFC legend Gareth Davies at the Racecourse in 1979 and although he was a long way past his best by then he was still a massive draw and those at the game will never forget it.

Steven Gerrard

Liverpool FC arrived at the Racecourse for a pre-season friendly against Wrexham AFC a couple of months after winning the European Cup in Istanbul. Steven Gerrard captained the side as the Merseysiders ran out 4-3 winners on a stiflingly hot day. The Liverpool side also featured Jamie Carragher and Xabi Alonson. Liverpool would return to the Racecourse a few weeks later to take on Welsh Premier League champions TNS in a Champions League qualifying clash, a game Liverpool also won, 3-0.

Frank Lampard

Chelsea FC legend Frank Lampard was on loan at Swansea City from West Ham United when he played at the Racecourse in 1995 but it wasn’t a happy visit for the Londoner as Wrexham ran out 4-1 winners. After leaving West Ham Lampard went on to become one of the best players in Chelsea’s history, winning a stack of trophies and also becoming their record goalscorer.

Marco van Basten

A three-time Ballon d’or winner, former Ajax and AC Milan star van Basten is widely considered to be one of the greatest strikers in the history of the game despite being forced to retire early at the age of 28. Van Basten appeared for the Netherlands at the Racecourse Ground in 1989 for a World Cup Qualifier against Wales which his side won 2-1.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney was only 16 years old when he scored his first goals in professional football against Denis Smith’s Wrexham at the Racecourse in 2002. Rooney’s Everton side won 3-0 in the League Cup fixture and the Scouser would go on to become one of the best attackers in world football, becoming record goalscorer for both Manchester United and England.

Can you think of any other world class footballers to have played in North Wales? Let us know in the comment section below

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