It couldn’t last, of course. Wales heroic efforts in the 1958 World Cup took them to the quarter-finals where they would meet eventual winners Brazil. Many observers of the match believe this to have been one of Jack Kelsey’s finest performances for club or country. Certainly the Brazilian players were complimentary about it post-match.
Kelsey was not the only Arsenal player on view, the Welsh captain was Dave Bowen whilst Mel Charles would join the club in 1959.
It had been an eventful tournament for the Welsh. Initially they failed to qualify for the finals, finishing as runners-up to Czechoslovakia. However when Belgium refused to play Israel in a play-off, Wales stepped in winning 2-0 in Tel Aviv and Cardiff.
In the group phase, they drew all three games but with goal difference not in place and goal average not used by Fifa, they faced Hungary in a play-off. The Magyars might not have been as magnificient as they once were but still offered a substantial barrier to Wales’ progress.
Hungary had every right to feel aggrieved about the match. They had a goal difference of +3, had scored more than Wales and a goal average of 2.00 vs the Welsh 1.00. Such is the way with football, they succumbed to an unlikely 1-2 defeat in Solna on June 17th.
It was a noteworthy goal which beat them, being Pele’s first in World Cup finals.