David Collins, the former General Secretary of the Football Association of Wales, visited the Home of FIFA in Zurich this week to meet with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. While there, the long-serving member of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) took some time out for an interview with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Mr Collins, what brings you here today?
David Collins: I retired on 8 January, so FIFA President Blatter invited me to Zurich to honour my services to football.
You enjoyed a long career as an official. What were your main highlights over the years?
I started at the Welsh FA in 1995 and over the following years we managed to stabilise things financially and create solid foundations for the future. I also enjoyed being a part of the IFAB and my roles as General Coordinator and Match Commissioner at the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cups.
How much are you looking forward to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa?
I'm very excited about it and I'm sure I will be even more so as the tournament gets nearer and nearer. It's the first time that a World Cup will be taking place on African soil, in new surroundings and with a completely different atmosphere. It's going to be a wonderful tournament and I can't wait.
How disappointed were you that Wales didn't manage to qualify?
The fact that Wales never managed to qualify for a World Cup or European Championship during my career is one my biggest regrets. We came mightily close when we lost against Russia in the play-offs for a place at EURO 2004.
How do you rate the current Welsh national team?
We have a very young squad. After the resignation of Mark Hughes as coach, several of our more experienced players hung up their international boots. The new coach, John Toshack, has had a difficult job right from the start as he had to find emerging talents and try to mould them into a team. The average age of the current squad is just 22. We've got some huge talents like Aaron Ramsey, Simon Church, Christopher Gunter and Gareth Bale who haven't had too many opportunities to play together, but they will develop gradually over the next few years. Aaron Ramsey has proved with his performances at Arsenal that he could be the next Ryan Giggs. Hopefully the draw for the EURO 2012 qualifiers will be kind to us and we’ll finally make it to a major tournament.
Who is your favourite for the World Cup this year?
That's a tricky one, because there are so many strong sides this time around. Obviously teams like Brazil, Germany, Italy and Spain come to mind. England as well, of course, if they can stay injury-free throughout the tournament. Besides, the English should feel right at home in the wintry South African weather (laughs)!