A host of Welsh sporting legends have paid tribute to former Wales goalkeeper Dai Davies in a special television programme to be shown this week.
Davies passed away on February 10, aged 72, after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.
Born and bred in Glanaman before later settling in Llangollen in later life, Davies was husband to Judy, father to Gareth, Rhian and Bethan, and a grandfather to 12 grandchildren.
During a long, successful football career, Davies won 52 caps for Wales, while also representing several clubs, including Swansea City, Everton, Wrexham and Tranmere Rovers. Off the field, he was inducted to the Gorsedd y Beirdd in 1978.
After retiring from the sport, Davies worked as a PE teacher and also owned a crafts shop in Mold and a healing centre in Llangollen. He also worked in the media as a football pundit and commentator, and was a familiar face to S4C viewers as part of the Sgorio team.
Cofio Dai Davies (Remembering Dai Davies), produced by his former colleagues at Rondo Media, will be shown on Friday 19 March, with English subtitles available.
Among those sharing their stories are Neville Southall, Sir Gareth Edwards, Dixie McNeill, Nic Parry and members of Davies’s family.
Southall first met Davies when he was called up to the Wales squad and they became room-mates.
Southall said: “I learnt a lot from Dai, and the biggest thing I learnt from him was, what is to be Welsh.
“North Wales, where I grew up, wasn’t particularly Welsh Welsh, I didn’t hear the language that much. I suppose when you look at Dai, Dai is what a Welsh person is supposed to be like. For him, it was all encompassing, Dai was Wales.
“He had a wicked sense of humour. I know, from speaking to the old players at Everton, they just liked him as a fella.
“He was very strong mentally, he was a caring fella, he had an incredible stubborn streak in him which served him well in his career.
“If you’re goalkeeper, you need to be reliable, steady, safe and Dai was like that on the pitch and as a man. You don’t play as long as Dai did, you don’t play international football, if you’re rubbish.
“Dai got hammered on a regular basis at times and the mental strength to come through that, after he made a mistake, was something to behold. Dai was an incredibly strong person.
“When Everton bought him, they were the champions and champions don’t buy you unless they see a champion in you.
“In lots of ways, Dai was a champion. He was a champion for Wales, he was a champion for the culture and he was a champion for complementary health as well. He was always good to me and always a good mentor.
“Dai was someone who embodied everything that was Welsh, and when I think of Wales, the person I think of is Dai.”
Edwards lived with Dai when they were both studying at Cardiff Teacher Training College.
He said: “From the first day I met Dai, it was clear that he had the ability and the hunger to be successful, no matter what he would end up doing, whether that would be as a teacher or as a professional footballer.
“Who would have thought back then that I would become the first rugby player to win 50 caps for Wales, and that Dai would become the first goalkeeper to win 50 caps for Wales. We were both quite proud of that.
Cofio Dai Davies
Portread o un o wynebau mwyaf cyfarwydd pêl-droed Cymru – y cyn-golwr, Dai Davies – a enillodd 52 o gapiau dros Gymru tra’n chwarae i Everton, Wrecsam ac Abertawe.
— ⚽ Sgorio (@sgorio) March 18, 2021
“We had a lot of fun with Dai, and I’ve enjoyed his company over the years.”
Watch Cofio Dai Davies, at 8.25pm on Friday 19 March, or on demand on S4C Clic. English subtitles available.
Cofio Dai Davies
Friday 19 March, 8.25
English subtitles available
On demand: S4C Clic, iPlayer and other platforms
A Rondo Media production for S4C