Connor savours the moment
Just eight months ago Connor Roberts feared his career was heading in the wrong direction.
But after returning home to Swansea in January, Roberts has not looked back – and it has been quite a rise.
Local product Roberts, who hails from Crynant, returned to his parent club after cutting short a loan spell with Middlesbrough midway through last season due to a lack of game-time.
It had been a similar story when he went on loan to Bristol Rovers the previous year.
Signed by then Boro boss Garry Monk, Roberts managed just four appearances in half a season with the Teesside club.
But his return to SA1 offered an unexpected opportunity, despite the right-back wondering which direction his career was heading in.
After making his Swans debut in the FA Cup in January, Roberts would feature in the club’s Premier League run-in, and has since become a regular at right-back.
More reward followed for Roberts, a player respected for his work ethic and attitude, with Wales boss Ryan Giggs handing him an international debut.
And as he looks ahead to returning to the Riverside this Saturday, Roberts knows nothing can be taken for granted in football.
“I feel like I have come so far in a short space of time,” said Roberts, who scored his first senior goal in Wales’ win over the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.
“I had a fantastic time on loan with Yeovil in 2015-16, where I played more than 50 games, but then I had a frustrating time at Bristol Rovers the following year.
“Last year I was at Middlesbrough and not playing, but since then I have played in the Premier League, I’m playing in the Championship now and to top it all off I have made my international debut for Wales – and scored.
“My time at Middlesbrough was frustrating. I started to think there might not be a way back for my career. I had not played for weeks on end.
“I used to go home from training and think what might be. I thought I might have to go back to lower leagues to play and start again.
“The fact I came back from there and started playing for Swansea two days later was a huge moment for me. Since then everything has gone on and got better from there.
“Everything is brilliant at the minute but I know from the times I have had when things don’t go well – like my loan spells at Bristol Rovers and Middlesbrough – that things can change.
“A lot of people forget that could happen again. So I am determined to enjoy what is going on, to continue learning and improving.”