Getting to know. . . Swansea City Under-18s midfielder Tom Dyson
15th January 2016
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 midfielder Tom Dyson, who discusseshow a drop in confidence and a break from football helped rejuvenate his passion for playing for Swansea City.
For many young boys the chance to play for a professional football club's youth academy would be an opportunity many could never turn down.
However, for a young Tom Dyson, that dream did not live up to the expectation that imaginations deliver.
Dyson, who joined the Swans at the age of nine, had spent three seasons travelling from his home in West Wales to be part of the academy foundation phase set-up until a change of heart meant he put his ambitions of becoming a footballer on hold.
"I was 11 and had lost my confidence," Tom openly admits. "I just was not enjoying my football.
"It was hard work at a young age to do the early starts and late nights travelling from where I lived, to make training each day and to play games on the weekend. It takes its toll when you are younger.
"I was not enjoying the life I was living. I felt I needed some time away to be a kid and be with my mates, so I quit the club when I was in the Under-12s.
"It seems quite dramatic when I tell people now, but it was the right thing to do at the time."
Despite putting the chance of a career in football at risk, Dyson, who hails from Freshwater East, near Tenby, admits the time away from the game helped him refocus his ambitions, allowing him to rediscover the confidence he had lost.
"It was ironic - when I stopped playing and had taken a step back I started to enjoy the game again," he adds.
"I would go down the beach and have a game with my mates and they would encourage me to get back into football. It was those sort of things that helped me rediscover my passion for the game.
"About two years later, I contacted the coach, Jon Beale, and told him I wanted to come back.
"He knew I was not very confident when I had left, so he wanted to make sure I was enjoying my football this time around.
"As soon as I arrived, my mentality was different. I wanted to keep progressing and push myself, so the break definitely helped me rebuild the determination I had lost."
Since his return to Swansea City Academy, Dyson's budding career has continued to flourish.
The midfielder became an apprentice at the beginning of the 2014-15 season alongside eight other young local players.
Dyson impressed with the scholars last season and was part of the squad that helped an Under-19s side to a sixth successive FAW Youth Cup title in April.
Now a second-year scholar, the 18-year-old has been a regular in the U18s team this season as he sets his sights on earning a pro contract with the club in the coming months.
"That is where I am aiming to be, but I am just looking to focus on my football," Dyson said.
"As long as I feel as though my game is continuing to progress then whatever happens at the end of the season happens.
"If I get a pro contract, I know I will have worked hard towards it. If not, I need to make sure I work harder to find a different club and not to let the pressure weigh me down.
"For now, I want to focus on this season. The challenge has been much harder since we moved up to category one but I have enjoyed every single moment of playing.
"Being with the lads is great - we are like a family and we all try and help each other with our game."
The quiet teenager, who plays in the heart of the young Swans' midfield, insists he has come a long way since deciding to quit football six years ago.
"When on the pitch now, I feel more confident in myself and my game compared to when I was 11.
"As you get older you look at things in a different way. For example, years ago I would lose confidence against a team who were stronger and more powerful - now I don't let it bother me.
"I have found ways to channel my fears or lack of confidence on the football pitch to beat players to the ball.
"The break in football definitely reignited my career and helped me enjoy football much more. It inspired me to go on and do better and strive to become better.
"I am still a quiet person but rather than shouting about what I can do or what I am about, I prefer to keep quiet and do my talking on the pitch."