Chris Gunter to become first Welshman to win 100 caps in Mexico match
Chris Gunter will become the first Welshman to win 100 caps when he captains the side against Mexico in Cardiff on Saturday.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the 31-year-old right-back’s remarkable international career.
Newport-born Gunter was a 17-year-old at Cardiff when he made his Wales debut against New Zealand in May 2006. Gunter played the first half of a 2-2 friendly draw at Wrexham, which also marked the debut of record goalkeeper caps holder Wayne Hennessey. Current national team manager Ryan Giggs started that game, his penultimate Wales appearance.
The start of Gunter’s early international career coincided with a period of transition as then-manager John Toshack shipped out the old guard and blooded plenty of youngsters. Gunter, who has played for Cardiff, Tottenham, Nottingham Forest, Reading and current club Charlton, had grown up with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale and soon made the right-back spot his own. He made 63 consecutive appearances for Wales between February 2011 and September 2018.
Gunter’s composure and experience played a vital part in Wales qualifying for Euro 2016, the country’s first major tournament for 58 years. He played right wing-back as manager Chris Coleman opted for a three-man central defence and Wales reached the semi-finals. Gunter’s special bond with the Wales fans was confirmed by his ‘chin up’ gesture following the group defeat to England and his pinpoint cross to Sam Vokes in the quarter-final, with the striker’s header sealing a famous 3-1 victory over Belgium.
Gunter became Wales’ most capped player in November 2018. He captained Wales for the second time in surpassing Neville Southall’s 92-cap mark in a friendly against Albania. As Gunter struggled to find flights for friends and family to the European outpost, he quipped about Gareth Bale and his private jet: “I’ll ask Gaz if I can borrow his plane.” Despite losing his place to Swansea’s Connor Roberts in recent years, Gunter remains a valued member of the squad and is set to feature at his second European Championship this summer as Wales’ first centurion.