HE was a regular for Wales alongside Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and appeared in front of full houses at both the Millennium Stadium and Wembley.

Now Aberbargoed Buds hope to rekindle the playing career of former Newport County AFC, Cardiff City and 14-times capped international Darcy Blake.

The Welsh League Division One strugglers have brought the 26-year-old defender back from football's wilderness as player/coach as they seek to climb out of the relegation zone.

The New Tredegar-born star drifted away from the game after his short stint with the Exiles in May 2014.

Blake has even been playing rugby for New Tredegar's seconds in Division Two of the Newport and Pontypool District League.

But now he’s been given an opportunity to rekindle his football career, which at its club-level height saw him play at Wembley as a Cardiff substitute in their Carling Cup final defeat to Liverpool in 2012.

At Aberbergoed he joins caretaker boss John Lewis, assistant manager Alyn Jones and first-team coach Jason Windsor.

The club, based at the Centre of Sporting Excellence at Ystrad Mynach, sacked previous manager Adrian Needs earlier this month following an indifferent start to the season.

“We are delighted to have Darcy on board,” said Lewis, whose professional career saw him appear for County, Cardiff and Swansea City as well as Wales' under-23s.

“He attended training on Wednesday and you could still see the quality he still has. Obviously his fitness needs working on and if he can manage that, then it's a terrific signing for us.

“However we are not naïve to think if matters work out for him, that he will stay with us for the rest of his career.

“So if he does return to a higher level, then we will have the satisfaction of helping him on his way.”

Blake, who attended Blackwood Comprehensive School, joined Cardiff as a 10-year-old and went on to play 90 times for the Bluebirds.

In August 2012 he joined Crystal Palace for an undisclosed fee, but had his contract terminated after just 12 appearances for the Eagles.

In March last year Blake linked up with County on non-contract terms and appeared eight times before he left to train with Plymouth in the summer of 2014.

He left the Home Park club a month later having failed to earn a permanent deal and soon withdrew from the professional game, later appearing for amateur side Tredegar Arms in the North Gwent League.

Blake made his full senior international debut against Switzerland in 2010 and scored his first goal in a 2-1 defeat against Australia the following year.

He was a regular in Wales' ultimately unsuccessful 2012 European Championship qualifying campaign alongside the likes of Bale and Ramsey.

Aberbargoed are in Welsh League action today at Ton Pentre (kick-off 2.30pm).