Dan Carroll | From Premier League Kicks to Swansea City Academy

28th March

Swansea City fans will this week have seen young player Dan Carroll modelling the club’s new commemorative range of clothing, but Dan’s journey to our academy and a photoshoot with his heroes would not have been possible without Swansea City AFC Foundation’s free Premier League Kicks programme.

Dan will have dreams of following in the footsteps of the likes of Liam Cullen, who was also part of the photoshoot for the new kit having come through the academy himself to reach the first team.

Yet, a little over three-and-a-half years ago, Dan had never played any organised football.

And it was the Kicks programme, which offers free football sessions for 1,370 children across south Wales, that first gave Dan the chance to showcase and develop his talent.

The sessions gave Dan – who attended at Ysgol Pen Rhos in Seaside - the opportunity to try the sport in an environment that is open to all abilities. 

It quickly became clear to the Kicks coaches that Dan was a talented player, and they were taken aback to learn just how little football he had played previously.

“There was something unique about Dan when he first attended our Kicks sessions. His pace and flare stood out to us as coaches and we were surprised he hadn’t really played before,” said Craig Richards, youth engagement manager at the Foundation.

“He’s done incredibly well to sign with the Swansea City academy. He’s a perfect role model for other young children in the area.”

As Dan participated in the weekly sessions, he continued to develop his footballing abilities, and grew in confidence. 

He looked for more opportunities to play, and joined local grassroots side Evans & Williams AFC.

PL Kicks photo

Coach Nick Jones was impressed with Dan’s abilities, and could see him constantly developing as he began playing alongside attending the Premier League Kicks sessions.

“When Dan joined Evans & Williams it was clear that he was a very talented footballer. Dan was a pleasure to coach, and he had a great attitude towards football,” says Nick.

“During his time with us he showed a massive improvement in his understanding of football and his tactical awareness.

“It was great to see Dan progress from there into the Swans academy. It just shows that there is a pathway from grassroots football into professional academies, which is fantastic.”

Dan played for Evans & Williams for 18 months, and his talent was soon spotted by Swans academy scouts. He was offered the chance to attend a trial with the club.

He made an impression during his time at Landore, and he was signed up to the Swans’ pre-academy ahead of the 2023-24 season.

“Dan came in and showed a load of potential. He scored a great goal during his trial, which was really good to see because it was based off what we’d been working on in training so it demonstrated how much of a good learner he is as well,” said Finnley Harris, foundation phase coach at Swansea City’s academy.

“He’s a really hardworking boy and he’s got a really good family around him, as well, which I think has massively helped him get to where he is today.

“At grassroots level you develop that passion for the game so the fact that he started there, found that love for the game, played every position and enjoyed everything about it. It just allowed him to fall in love with football.”

Dan Carroll Evans & Williams

And Dan’s football story started with those Kicks sessions at Seaside in Llanelli.

His aunt, Katie Ssemmanda, spoke of the importance of the programme in opening up possibilities the youngster may not have been able to otherwise explore and experience.

“Starting off at Premier League Kicks was so important for Dan, he absolutely loved going to the sessions every week at Ysgol Pen Rhos,” said Katie.

“I think Kicks was a huge for his development. We saw him grow in confidence and really develop his skills. He loved being involved in the games and playing as part of a team.

“We are all so proud of Dan, he has done extremely well to reach the point that he has, and we can see him developing his skills every single week. 

Dan Carroll fourth kit shoot

“Being part of Swansea City is a dream come true for Dan and he is loving every minute of it.”

To add the icing on top of the cake for Dan, he was recently invited to be part of Swansea City’s fourth kit launch, modelling the club’s tracksuit that celebrates the 1994 Autoglass Trophy winning side.

As well as getting an exclusive look at the new kit and tracksuit, Dan had the opportunity to meet Swansea City men’s first-team stars Ronald and Cullen, and Swansea City Women midfielder Sammy Wynne.

“It was great to see Dan involved in the kit launch, especially as he got to meet Ronald and Liam Cullen, which really topped off the experience for him.” said Richards.

“It was amazing for Dan to be part of it, he absolutely loved doing the photoshoot and it was great to see his face light up when he met the players.” added Katie.