Explore the connections between Rovers and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia are competing in their fifth World Cup Finals, the most recent being in 2006.
The Tale of George Skinner
Saudi Arabia’s national coach between 1969 and 1972 was George Skinner (1917-2002), who played in two wartime games with Rovers during the 1945/46 campaign. A former Spurs inside forward, his coaching career took in stints as national manager in Finland, Nigeria, Libya, Jordan and Iran as well as three years at the helm for the Saudis.
He led Saudi Arabia to success in the Arabian Games before becoming a club manager in Iceland.
Rovers Players in Saudi
Graham Ricketts played 32 times as a wing half for Rovers between 1956 and 1962 and his subsequent work as a safety supervisor for a company specialising in portable buildings has taken him to placements in Saudi Arabia.
Full back Neil Slatter played for Rovers between 1981 and 1985, scoring four times in 147 (+1) League matches. His form earned a call up to the full Welsh side and his first goal for Wales came two minutes after half time in a 2-1 win against Saudi Arabia in the Jahawi Stadium in Khobar in February 1986.
David Williams was an accomplished midfielder, whose 342 (+10) League games and 66 goals for Rovers covered a decade from 1975 to 1985; he was in the Wales side which played Saudi Arabia in 1986.
Diego Arismendi, a Uruguayan international who has four full caps, was in the Brighton side which faced Rovers in April 2010. Leaving South America in 2015, he signed for the Saudi side Al Shabab of Riyadh.
Eamon O’Keefe, who played in both Wigan Athletic’s games against Rovers in 1982/83 and both Port Vale’s matches the following season, was with Al Hilal in 1975/76.
Three Saudi Arabia national managers of the late 1970s opposed Rovers: Bill McGarry played against Rovers with Port Vale, Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth between 1947 and 1961, conceding an own goal in Rovers’ favour in December 1947; David Woodfield played twice for Watford between 1972 and 1974; and Ronnie Allen played for Port Vale and Crystal Palace against Rovers between 1947 and 1974, scoring in Vale’s 1-0 win in August 1949.