Wales take on Portugal in the first semi final of Euro 2016 tonight. Making it to the last four of a European Championship surely surpasses the wildest dreams of even the most optimistic of Wales players. After all, for decades even qualifying for a major tournament has proved a pipe dream for generations of Welsh internationals. For all the European trophies players like Mike England, John Toshack and Ryan Giggs won with their clubs, they never played a World Cup or European Championship with their country.
Neither did Ian Rush and and Mark Hughes, even though they formed a impressive front two in the mid eighties that would have easily walked into the line up of much bigger countries. They complimented each other perfectly: Hughes was a powerful target man who fought for every ball, while Rush was a clinical finisher. The highlight of their partnerschip was a 3-0 home defeat of Spain in 1985 in a qualifier for the 1986 World Cup. Rush scored two goals against the Spaniards, who had made it to the final of the European Championship the year before, while Hughes scored one. It was a legendary night for Welsh football, but not enough to make it to Mexico: Wales would be eliminated from the qualifying proces on goal difference.
Mark Hughes and Ian Rush pose during a training session before the match against Spain
Rush closes down a Spanish defender
Hughes scores the second goal with a spectacular volley
Rush and Hughes celebrate the second goal with team mates
Ian Rush celebrates after the game