Anthony Wright | There's no better feeling than seeing players reach the first team

1st March 2021
Anthony Wright

He has overseen three consecutive FAW Youth Cup triumphs - making history along the way - and masterminded victories over top academy sides including Aston Villa, West Ham and Southampton. 

But, for Anthony Wright, nothing makes him smile more than the sight of a Swansea City academy graduate making his first-team debut.

After four years in charge of the Swans’ under-18 and under-19 sides, Wright is stepping up to become assistant coach to new under-23s boss Kris O’Leary.

A Swansea lad who spent time in the club’s youth ranks as a player before turning out for Oxford, Llanelli and Carmarthen, he has been part of the academy coaching set-up at Landore for the past nine years.

And, after taking over the reins of the under-18s alongside Jon Grey, he guided them to a sixth-place finish in Premier League South during their maiden season in category one football; enjoying victories over the likes of Aston Villa, West Ham and Southampton along the way.

Wright, who signed off with a 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, also enjoyed regular success in the FAW Youth Cup with the under-19s, including a record-breaking 10th consecutive title in 2019 following a 2-1 victory over TNS.

More importantly, he helped nurture the development of current first-team players in Ben Cabango, Liam Cullen and Brandon Cooper, while their fellow senior representatives Ollie Cooper, Cameron Evans and Tivonge Rushesha also benefitted from his words of wisdom

And it is that aspect of the role that has given Wright the greatest satisfaction during his four-year stint.

“For me, there’s no better feeling than seeing players that you’ve worked with stepping onto that first-team pitch,” he smiled.

“We’ve won tournaments along the way, we’ve played in some big games and played really well.

“But, without a shadow of doubt, the minute that a player steps out on that first-team pitch – that’s what it’s all about.

“You feel a sense of pride that you’ve helped them along the way – whether that’s one per cent or 10 per cent.

“To see them step out; that’s my reward and what I look for.”

Wright continues his own progression through the ranks as he moves up to the under-23s alongside former Swans midfielder O’Leary, who has returned to the club following a restructure by recently appointed academy director Mark Allen.

Anthony Wright

The pair take charge of the development side for the first time when they travel to face Millwall on Tuesday.

And Wright is confident it will be the start of a successful partnership.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Kris,” he said.

“I know him well; we’ve never worked together, but I’ve no doubt we’ll bounce off each other.

“I think it’s the right time for me in terms of how I’m progressing.

“Since Mark’s come in, I’m pleased to say that we’ve built a really good relationship, and the positivity in and around the academy has been excellent.

“He’s given me that pat on the back and the opportunity to step up, so I’m thankful.

“There’s a real good vibe and everyone’s buzzing off the atmosphere at the moment.”