Getting to know. . . Swansea City Under-21s winger Daniel James
18th November 2015
As part of our new Swans Academy content, we speak to an upcoming talent within the youth ranks at the club.
We continue our in-depth look at the talent within the club with an interview with under-21s winger Daniel James, who discusses to move to Wales, his first year in Swansea and his dreams of playing for the first team.
At first glance, Daniel James is just like any typical teenager in Swansea.
"When I'm not playing football, I like to play on my X-Box, watch TV, spend time with my family, chill with the boys and go to the cinema - that sort of thing," says the young winger.
While others his age are taking on their first job or studying A-Levels for a place at university, James has dreams and ambitions of graduating from Swans Academy into Garry Monk's first-team plans.
The 18-year-old scholar arrived in SA1 in August 2014 after making the switch from Hull City's academy.
Despite spending eight years with The Tigers' youth set-up, the winger decided that a move to Wales would be best for his career.
"I had a great time at Hull, but it was time to move on and I believe that move has been the best thing for me," admits James.
"I came down to see the facilities at Landore and Fairwood, as well as to meet with some of the coaches, and was really impressed.
"At the time, Swansea were a category two academy, but I saw that there was great potential and ambition at the club, which ignited the same kind of feeling for me.
"I believed that if I moved here, I would have a great opportunity to improve as a player and a person, which is why I signed."
In reality, Swansea could be seen as a second home for James as family ties qualified the midfielder to play for Wales as a schoolboy in the 2013 Victory Shield.
"My dad is originally from Aberdare, which qualified me to play for Wales," James explains. "It was great to represent the country in the Victory Shield, and I have been lucky enough to go on to play for Wales at an Under-19 level.
"I knew a few of the boys here from playing international football, so that link to the Wales set-up helped me slot into Swansea life when I arrived last year."
Since that move in August 2014, the Swansea youngster has been aiming to make the most of his opportunities at the academy, helping the young Swans win the FAW Youth Cup last season before his impressive performances earned him opportunities with the Under-21 squad.
With Swansea's development side making the step up to category one this season, James has followed suit, exploding onto the scene for Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack's side.
The youngster has made a string of impressive performances for last season's Development League Two South winners, scoring his first U21s goal during the 3-2 win over Wolves in September.
"My first goal for the Under-21s felt a long time coming because I've come close during all the games I've played so far this season," he admits.
"As a team, we have been working hard to make sure we play the right way and compete at a category one level.
"This season is a very different test. The games are much more demanding, but it is great to work with Gary (Richards) and Cameron (Toshack) again because they know my game and what I can do on the pitch.
"I admit that, when involved with the U21s last season, I did suffer a bit with nerves, but if you want to be a better player you have to be prepared to go outside of your comfort zone and raise your game."
And James has had further chances to test himself at a higher level, having been invited to train with the first team by manager Garry Monk, alongside several of his young colleagues.
"The club has given me so many great opportunities," insists James. "Training with the first team was an amazing experience.
"For young players like myself, it is good to have senior players like Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor around to encourage you and give you some words of advice.
"Getting opportunities like that - as well as with the U21s - has made me more confident on and off the pitch, which will help make me a better person and player."
But James is well aware of the hard work ahead as he looks to climb the ranks at Swansea City.
"I have ambitions to play for the first team," James insists with confidence. "Of course, that is the ultimate goal.
"But at the moment, I am still a second-year scholar so I know I have a long way to go.
"There's plenty of hard work ahead, but I am loving life here and looking forward to the challenges to come."