Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds honoured for promoting Wales to the world

Deadpool star Reynolds also spoke Welsh from the stage in New York while accepting the award.
Deadpool star Reynolds also spoke Welsh from the stage in New York while accepting the award. Deadpool star Reynolds also spoke Welsh from the stage in New York while accepting the award.

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have been honoured by the Welsh Government, the Football Association of Wales and S4C for promoting the country and its language.

The actors, who are co-chairmen of Welsh football team Wrexham FC, were given the Dragon Award on Monday at a star-studded Wales To The World event in New York.

McElhenney said on stage: “I would like to thank the Welsh Government, the Football Association of Wales, S4C and all of our friends in Wales for tonight’s honour.

“We accept this with the full recognition that these last two years have been the real honour.”

Deadpool star Reynolds, 46, added: “Rob and I are first and foremost, we’re storytellers. And we are so humbled by the fact that the people of Wrexham and the nation of Wales have entrusted us to tell your story.”

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia creator McElhenney, 45, asked Reynolds: “Do you want to want to try some Welsh Ryan?”

Reynolds responded: “How about this? Cymru am byth!”

The phrase means Wales forever or long live Wales.

McElhenney also told S4C that they thought “if we are going to take over a club in Wales then we wanted to spread the word of not only the town itself but of the entire culture”.

He added: “We talked to a lot of people who truly do not know enough about Wales. It’s a great opportunity (to promote it) on the global stage.”

Reynolds and McElhenney took full control of the National League club from the Wrexham Supporters Trust in February 2021, investing £2 million under the terms of the deal.

In April, Reynolds unveiled a commemorative urinal dedicated to McElhenney for his birthday, in a bathroom block at the Racecourse Ground, and they regularly use their visits to the club to shine a spotlight on the Red Dragons.

They donated £10,000 to a charity fundraising page after the death of a player’s baby, while Reynolds also sent a message to six-year-old Leland, who had been diagnosed with cancer.

The donation was made in January to a GoFundMe page set up by footballer Jordan Davies and his partner Kelsey Edwards, after their son Arthur was “born sleeping”.

Reynolds also urged his followers last month to get themselves tested as a potential bone marrow transplant donor for Blyth Spartans fan Leland, ahead of a match against Wrexham.

He told his Twitter followers: “You take a quick swab of your cheek (by getting a kit from anthonynolan.org or dkms.org.uk) and register to save a life like Leland’s.

“Takes only a few minutes. Let’s kick the shit out of childhood cancer please.”

They have also explored the history and culture of Wrexham in their hit TV series Welcome To Wrexham.

The Critics’ Choice Award-winning show documents the team’s progress, and tells the story of the club, founded in 1864, which has the world’s oldest international ground.

The Wales To The World event was hosted by Fantastic Four and Hornblower film series actor Ioan Gruffudd.

Welsh bass-baritone opera and concert singer Sir Bryn Terfel, Welsh mezzo-soprano singer Katherine Jenkins and Game Of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon also attended.

Urdd, the largest youth organisation in Europe, also presented the Diolch Y Ddraig (Dragon Award) to Reynolds and McElhenney.

McElhenney is the producer of the long-running American TV series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, in which he also stars alongside Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson and Charlie Day.