Brian Flynn was almost an international record-breaker before scoring arguably the greatest-ever Wales goal on his first full appearance.
On the 144th anniversary of Wales’ first fixture – a 4-0 defeat to Scotland in Glasgow on March 25, 1876 – Flynn’s finish against the ‘Tartan Army’ in the 1975 British Home Championship stands tall in the Welsh pantheon of great goals.
But Flynn, the former Burnley and Leeds midfielder, still chuckles at the thought of how at just 5ft 4ins in his stockinged feet that he might have become the smallest centre-half in football history.
“I made my debut against Luxembourg at the Vetch in Swansea,” Flynn recalled of a European Championship qualifier in November 1974.
“We were 4-0 up and coasting with half-an-hour to go, they were playing one up front and we had a back four.
“Mike Smith (manager) took Mike England off, put me on and everyone thought I was going to play at centre-half. That would have been something!
“But Mike was quite forward in terms of tactical acumen. He just said ‘play three at the back, you’re only marking one player’. So I had about 20-25 minutes.”
Flynn made another substitute appearance in a famous Wales win – 2-1 over Hungary at their Nepstadion fortress in April 1975 – before scoring the goal that Dragons’ fans still remember 45 years on.
It is a goal that has been seen countless times on YouTube, four one-touch passes before an unerring first-time finish from Flynn.
“It wasn’t a great ball into me from Malcolm Page, but I managed to flick it round the corner (past Lou Macari),” said Flynn, who went on to win 66 caps and enjoy a distinguished management career at Wrexham and Swansea and was briefly in charge of Wales in 2010.
“John Mahoney could have turned but he played the ball back to me first time.
“The weight on John’s pass was perfect for me to run onto and John Toshack made a great angle for me.
“He only went five or six yards inside the penalty box, and his return pass meant I couldn’t miss from that position.
“It was great to score a goal so many remember. It’s a long time ago, but I keep reminding people. It was not far off a masterpiece!
“It was also my first goal in senior football, I’d not even scored for Burnley then.”
It's a long time ago, but I keep reminding people. It was not far off a masterpiece!Brian Flynn
Flynn’s first-half goal at a packed Ninian Park put Wales 2-0 ahead.
Scotland, aided by a Bruce Rioch screamer, fought back to draw 2-2, but surely Flynn – just 19 at the time – had scored the greatest goal of a career that would see him play over 600 games?
“I’d have to say no,” said Flynn. “I scored against Brazil at Ninian Park once.
“In terms of profile, that was bigger. It was a header as well – and I didn’t score many of them.”