Terry Yorath's Cardiff pride ahead of Champions League final

Terry Yorath
Terry Yorath's playing career also included spells at Coventry City, Tottenham, Vancouver Whitecaps and Bradford

In three weeks, the eyes of the sporting world will be on Cardiff when Real Madrid and Juventus arrive in town for the Champions League final.

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale will hope to prove his fitness and win a third European major title in his home town on Saturday, 3 June and watching with interest will be another high profile Cardiff-born football figure.

Terry Yorath was the first Welshman to play in a European Cup final, as it was then, when his Leeds side of 1975 lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich in Paris.

For a man raised in the city's Grangetown area, the sight of club football's biggest global game being staged in Cardiff is still something Yorath finds hard to believe.

"I never thought a European Cup final would be here in Cardiff in my lifetime," said Yorath.

"We have a fantastic stadium and when the Italians and Spaniards come here they will enjoy the city and make it one big party. We should be proud of that."

Bale will aim to fulfil the dream of playing in his home city as he hopes to shrug off an injury which has sidelined him for almost a month.

"I hope Gareth plays because it would be great for him," said Yorath.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale has won the Champions League twice since joining Real Madrid in 2013

"When you look back 12 months when the game was announced, he would have been thinking 'I hope we are there'. His family must be so proud.

"He is injured at the moment, but it would be fantastic if he scored and Real Madrid won."

'One of the lucky few'

While Bale might be the latest Welshman to appear in a European final, Yorath was the first as he played his part during Leeds' controversial 2-0 defeat to a German side captained by Franz Beckenbauer in the French capital 42 years ago.

A series of refereeing decisions went against the English champions that day and crowd trouble involving Leeds fans marred the Parc des Princes occasion in which fellow Welshman, goalkeeper Glan Letheran, was an unused Leeds substitute.

"You never dream about it, but afterwards you look back and think how many people have actually played in a European Cup final," said Yorath.

"I am one of the lucky few and nobody can ever take that away from you.

Terry Yorath
Terry Yorath was a member of Leeds United's Championship winning side of 1973-74

"But we got beaten and the crowd trouble at the end marred everything.

"The Leeds crowd weren't good that day. I got substituted about 15 minutes before the end and had to walk behind the goal where the Leeds fans were and it was then the Leeds crowd started throwing seats.

"As I was walking by with the seats coming over the top of me, I thought I hadn't played that bad had I?

"But the referee wasn't good either. We were cheated, but we were used to that at Leeds."

'I love everything about Wales'

Being the first Welshman to play in a European Cup final allied with captaining his country in 42 out of 59 internationals and managing his nation formed the bedrock for Yorath becoming the 21st footballer to be inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame dinner in Cardiff.

Yorath was added to the roll of honour alongside Wales and Lions rugby star Graham Price, Olympics sprinter Christian Malcolm and ex-Glamorgan cricketer Peter Walker.

"It fees fantastic because when I came here down from Leeds, I didn't have a clue and believed I was just being invited here as a guest," said Yorath.

Terry Yorath in action for Wales
Yorath made his Wales debut in 1969 and went on to captain and manage the national side

"I am not sure how this has happened. I thought I would just go down and see my sister who lives in Cardiff.

"To be honoured in such a way is something I never expected.

"I thought my days of being named in a Hall of Fame or recognised by anyway with Wales were over. I am 67 now although I don't feel it.

"This is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me in football including playing in European Cups and Cup finals.

"Nothing will ever surpass this as far as sport goes.

"I now live in Leeds and nobody understands what being Welsh is.

"They don't understand how involved I get involved with whatever sport Wales play, why I have tears when the national anthem is played.

"I love everything about Wales. This is just such an honour."

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