Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil born inside right Dai Astley began his football career with Dowlais Welfare in 1926 before signing with local Third Division (South) club Merthyr Town in 1927, making his Football League debut at Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic that November. When Merthyr goalkeeper and manager Albert Lindon joined Charlton Athletic in January 1928 he brought Astley to their attention and Charlton paid £100 to sign him the same month after 3 goals in 6 appearances for his hometown club. An excellent signing he proved, his 10 goals in 1928-29 helping The Valiants to win the Third Division (South) Championship, Astley grabbing 32 goals in 105 appearances for Charlton before Aston Villa signed him for £1,500 in the summer of 1931.
In April that year while still at Charlton he won the first of his Wales international caps in a 3-2 victory over Ireland at The Racecourse Ground, and he won a further 12 caps over the next seven years, bagging an impressive 12 goals for his country in those games, his international career only being ended by the Second World War. He scored two goals in Wales’ final match of the 1933 British Home Championship, a 4-1 victory over Ireland at Wrexham which gave Wales the title, scoring in single goal wins against Scotland (3-2) and England (2-1) the following season as The Red Dragons completed what would be the first and only time they achieved back-to-back British Championship titles.
In five years at Villa Park he became a firm favourite and enjoyed the most successful period of his career. He scored 14 goals as Aston Villa finished runners up in the League Championship in 1932-33, he top scored for the club with 33 goals in 1933-34, including 4 goals in an FA Cup win over Sunderland in January 1934 and all three goals in a win over Leeds United that April, and he was their top scorer for two further seasons when he bagged hat-tricks against Preston North End, Leicester City, Stoke City and Huddersfield Town, scoring exactly 100 goals in 173 games, but his 21 goals in 1935-36 wasn’t enough to save Villa from relegation.
He was sold to high flying Derby County for £5,250 in November 1936, and during the rest of the season he blazed a trail, scoring 29 goals in 31 appearances including hat-tricks against Everton, Brentford and Arsenal as Derby finished fourth in the title race, finishing as the club’s top scorer. While his rate of scoring diminished the following season, he was an ever present and once again top scored with 17 goals. He scored 49 goals in 98 games for The Rams before he moved to Blackpool in January 1939. His career at Bloomfield Road was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War by when he had scored 6 goals in 21 games for The Seasiders. From 1939 to 1941, Astley continued to represent Wales, playing in four wartime internationals against England and scoring two goals in a 3-2 loss at Wrexham in November 1939.
After the War he played for a year in France for FC Metz from 1946 and went on to manage Inter Milan in 1948 and Genoa from 1949 to 1950 and also spent seven years in management in Swedish football with Djurgårdens and Sandvikens before finishing with professional football in 1957.