William David Davies, popularly known as Dai, was born on 1 April 1948 in Glanamman in the Amman Valley. Football was in the family genes because his father played at amateur level and had trials for Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Dai’s talent as a goalkeeper was recognised early. Aged 12 he represented his village under-18 team and aged 15 he played for Ammanford Town.
A good all round sportsman, Dai also played rugby. However, with football making ever-more demands on his time, he quit rugby to concentrate on his goalkeeping. This decision paid off when, in 1969, he turned professional, aged 21.
By this stage of his career, Dai had also qualified as a physical education instructor. However, the lure of Swansea Town was too strong and he opted to place his PE career on hold and play for the club.
Swansea Youth, with Dai in goal, enjoyed an excellent run in the English Youth Cup. An Everton scout spotted him and in December 1970 he signed for the Football League champions. His transfer fee: £40,000. It was a great move for Dai and he played for Everton for seven seasons.
In 1977, Dai signed for Wrexham. His first season with Wrexham was a great success. The club experienced their lowest number of defeats in a season and they won the Football League Division Three title.
Spells at Tranmere Rovers and Bangor City followed, along with second spells at Swansea and Wrexham. In total, Dai played 199 games for Wrexham and while at that club he made the majority of his Welsh team appearances – 28 out of 52 games.
Dai made his international debut on 16 April 1975 against Hungary. From that point, he enjoyed a consistent run missing only six out of 57 Wales games. His final appearance for his country occurred on 2 June 1982 versus France.
Dai enjoyed a varied life after his professional career. He published his autobiography, first in Welsh, Hanner Cystal a’ Nhad (‘Half as Good as My Father’), the title offering a tribute to his father. The English translation was titled ‘Never Say Dai’.
Dai had a financial interest in a Welsh book and craft shop, commentated on football for S4C, worked as a supply teacher, and ran a natural healing centre in Llangollen, which focused on herbal medicine, massage, Pilates and reiki.
Proud of his Welsh heritage, Dai was also a Druid and in 1978 he was initiated into the Gorsedd of Bards. He died on 10 February 2021, aged 72.