The Spirit of ’58: Wales at the World Cup

Wales since 1945

On 11 June 2016, Gareth Bale scored the opening goal in Wales’s 2-1 victory over Slovakia in the UEFA European Championship Finals; the first goal scored by a Welsh player at an international tournament for nearly 58 years.

For many, Euro 2016 was the catharsis to years of heartbreak and failed qualifying campaigns, and drew parallels to Wales’s World Cup golden generation through the clothing brand Spirit of ’58.

However, the ‘Spirit of ‘58’ is perhaps more rooted in modern nostalgia than the actual events of 1958. Poor television and local media coverage meant the 1958 World Cup simply passed a lot of people by in Wales. Footballing identity in Wales since 2016 has thus anchored itself to a period in which football was in decline, and a World Cup that few people truly experienced.

Mel Charles, a member of the 1958 squad, even remarked, “I don’t think…

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