Alan Tate: Once a Jack, Always a Jack
28th May 2015
It was way back in 2003 that Alan Tate lifted his Swansea City top to reveal a t-shirt declaring the words: 'Once a Jack, Always a Jack'.
Tate was coming to the end of his second loan spell at the Vetch Field from Manchester United having already helped the Swans secure their Football League status with that famous last-day victory over Hull City.
Nearly 13 years and 350 Swans appearances later, Tate will close the Liberty Stadium door for the final time on June 30 when his current contract comes to an end.
He leaves a club once struggling in the league basement sitting proudly in eighth place in the Barclays Premier League and having won the hearts of a growing fan base.
"I'm sorry to go, but I've loved every minute of it,'' declared Tate, who at 32 still has a number of offers on the table to continue his playing career following a successful loan spell at Crewe.
"It goes without saying that I'd like to thank everyone for making my time at Swansea so special - from the club, staff, players, supporters and the city as a whole.
"I'm pleased to have helped the club go from strength to strength since that game against Hull way back in 2003.
"There are probably too many highs to mention them all because they stretch from the Hull game through to the Championship play-off final at Wembley, three promotions, the Welsh derby victories over Cardiff to leading the Swans out at Manchester City as captain for our first ever game in the Premier League.
"There's even the Football League Trophy victory at the Millennium Stadium because I don't think we thought it could get any better at the time.
"It's difficult to name any low points as even the disappointments have indirectly led the club to the success it has enjoyed over the last few years.''
While Tate realises he will have to move away to continue his playing career, the Sunderland-born defender is adamant he will return to Swansea once he eventually hangs up his boots for the last time.
"Swansea is my home now and this is where I want to live once I finish playing,'' he added.
"The supporters have been brilliant to me from the very first day I left Old Trafford for the long trip down the M4.
"I'm proud I have managed to establish a strong bond with the fans. They have always supported me and I hope I have given them plenty in return.
"There are probably a lot better footballers than me who have worn the Swans shirt over the years, but I'd like to think that there have been few who have tried harder. The fans have been superb and I've found over the years that if they can see you giving 100 per cent then that's good enough for them.
"I'm leaving a fantastic club with my head held high - and I'll always be proud of that.''