Chris Gunter became the most-capped player in the history of the men's international game on Tuesday evening as he took to the field for the international challenge match against Albania in Elbasan.
Wales Most Capped Players
The most capped senior men's players of all time:
- 93 - Chris Gunter
- 92 - Neville Southall
- 85 - Gary Speed
- 83 - Ashley Williams
- 81 - Wayne Hennessey
As the dust settles on what was a disappointing 1-0 defeat, the match will be remembered for Gunter making Welsh football history. He captained the team on his historic night, but his achievement was celebrated by his team-mates and fans of The Red Wall more than Gunter himself, such is his humility.
Gunter eclipsed the record set by former goalkeeper Neville Southall as he represented his country for the 93rd time in his career, and the 29-year old is now on-course to became the first male international to make a century of appearances.
The Reading defender has become a cult hero with the Red Wall, and cemented himself in Welsh football folklore during UEFA EURO 2016 with his famous chin-up gesture to the fans following the injury-time defeat against England in Lens.
It quickly became a symbol of the tournament for Wales, and defined the spirit and character in the squad, together with the connection and bond between the players and the fans. His actions followed the post-match huddle, and through Gunter's iconic image, the message was relayed to the stands and the belief returned.
Having progressed through the intermediate ranks, Gunter found himself elevated into the senior squad by John Toshack, and made his debut against New Zealand at the Racecourse in Wrexham in May 2007 at the age of just seventeen. His enthusiasm and passion for representing his country remains as strong today as it did then.
Ever-present and ever-reliable throughout a series of qualifying campaigns since that debut, Gunter has been a figure of consistency in the side. The defining period of his career came in France during the summer of 2016, as the years of hurt and disappointment were turned around as Wales defied the odds to reach the semi-finals.
From his chin-up gesture to crossing the ball for Sam Vokes to score his unforgettable header against Belgium in the quarter-final, Gunter reflected everything that was brilliant about that squad of players with his attitude and approach.
Gunter has experienced the full-range of emotions during his time with the national team. From success and failure on the field to the devastating loss of Gary Speed back in 2011. His popularity within the group has never wavered, and in 2017 he was deservedly recognised by being named FAW Player of the Year.
In November 2017, Gunter captained the team in the friendly against Panama in Cardiff to mark his achievement of equalling the previous outfield appearance record of the late Gary Speed. Gunter then made his 86th appearance to pass that particular milestone against China back in March.
View this post on Instagram
Any fan of club or country that swears by the ‘anybody who gives 100% is all we ask for’ is epitomised by you welsh fans. Thank you to you, the welsh public for raising my performances. I’d love to reply to all the messages I’ve had, I can’t but I’ve seen them all. The support I had on Friday and yesterday was overwhelming, It was my honour to do it in front of 1,900 of you in Albania so far from home on a Tuesday night. I wish I could I could express how much it means, but from my family and the bottom of my heart diolch. I’ve experienced many highs and lows in front of you and with some of the best team mates you could wish for, you know who you are. You mean the world and see you in March for the big ones Another journey. Gunts
A firm fan-favourite, it is Gunter's modesty and focus on the team over his international achievements that make him such a popular figure with the Red Wall. His defensive qualities have played a pivotal part in Wales' success, and he still has a number of years of international football ahead of him to reach further milestones in the future.
All of which will be nothing but well-deserved.