Getting to know. . . Swansea City Under-18s keeper Lewis Thomas
14th November 2015
As part of our new Swans Academy content, we speak to an upcoming talent within the youth ranks at the club.
Next under the spotlight is under-18s keeper Lewis Thomas, who discusses training with Lukasz Fabianski and his dreams of becoming the club's number one between the sticks.
From his first glimpse of Lee Trundle's shoulder roll to training with Lukasz Fabianski, Lewis Thomas' desire to one day become Swansea's number one has never been so strong.
Brought up by a family of ardent Swans supporters, Thomas is aiming to live every local fan's dream by one day lining up in between the sticks at the Liberty Stadium.
"To be a young pro at Swansea City means a lot to me," admits the 18-year-old stopper. "I've grown up with the club, both as a supporter and as a player.
"I started playing football with Landore Colts when I was four years old, and when I was eight I was invited for trials with the Swans. From there, I have progressed through the age groups.
"As a home-grown boy, to play for the club at academy level is an incredible feeling, but my ultimate aim is to one day be number one here."
Thomas' Swansea City journey started many years ago on the terraces of the Vetch Field, where he regularly cheered on the Swans with his family.
"The first Swans game I went to was on my sixth birthday," he adds. "We were playing Huddersfield Town in the league when Lee Trundle did his famous trick where he rolled the ball around his neck before laying off to another player. From that moment it has always been my dream to play for Swansea."
Since that moment, Thomas has risen through the academy ranks to cement his place as the first-choice goalkeeper for Swansea City Under-18s for the past two seasons, before signing his first professional contract with the club this summer.
But despite his rapid rise, 'Lewie' - as he is known to his team-mates - admits he didn't make the best of first impressions.
"I had just come back from a broken elbow so had missed the beginning of the season," admits Thomas.
"We were playing away against Everton at their academy, which has a fantastic set-up. We were losing badly and I came on at half-time to let in four goals. I remember we lost something like 9-1.
"Despite the defeat, I loved it. I loved playing and being part of the academy and, fortunately, my debut has led to much better days."
After making his first appearance for the club, it didn't take long for Thomas' potential between the sticks to be noticed by staff at the club.
Whilst still playing at an under-15 level, Thomas was asked to join in with a first-team goalkeepers training session, which inevitably proved to be an "eye opening" experience for the young keeper.
"My first session training with the likes of Michel Vorm and Gerhard Tremmel was amazing," he beams. "I had to pinch myself to believe it was reality - I was still playing for the under-15s at the time.
"I've been lucky enough to have had something quite a few sessions with the first-team since then, which is a great experience. I have learned so much from training with Lukasz last season.
"He is a very hard trainer, and I was able to see first-hand what he does and what I have to work on, giving me an idea of what I have to do to progress to be at that standard.
"The experience has been extremely valuable: it enables you to see the game quicker. When I go into games now, I can predict the movement better. It helps in so many ways."
Training with Fabianski has helped Thomas settle in the Under-18s' first season in category one football, where they compete against the likes of West Ham, Arsenal and Chelsea in the U18 Premier League South Division.
Like any other budding footballer, Thomas has ambitions of playing first-team football for the club he grew-up supporting.
But despite being on the right path to achieving that dream, Thomas insists it's a long road and plenty of hard work ahead.
"I try not to set one massive target," he adds. "I have smaller individual targets that I set myself each game. If I keep achieving and progressing, I will get where I want to be.
"My favourite players are Lukasz Fabianski and Bayern's Manuel Neuer, but I am not looking to model myself on them or try to be too much like them. I want to be Lewis Thomas, it's as simple as that.
"To play in front of my family at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea City's number one keeper would be a dream come true, but for now I just need to keep working hard."