Gower makes Swans exit
Mark Gower has hailed his time at Swansea City as the best moments of his career after the midfielder said farewell to the club today.
Gower has ended his five-year spell at the Liberty after he agreed with the club to terminate his contract a month early.
The 34-year-old played a pivotal role in the club's promotion to the Premier League, playing in 42 league games as the Swans soared to the top-flight via the Championship Play-Off final in 2011.
And he leaves the Swans with unforgettable memories.
"It could not have gone much better for me," he said. "The club has only gone in one direction, and that's up.
"The club was new to the Championship when I arrived, and I thought we would consolidate in the division for a while.
"But we went close to the play-offs on a few occasions before winning it at Wembley.
"The Play-Off final was the best moment of my career. To be a part of that game - and winning promotion to the Premier League - is something I will take to my grave.
"My career had gone full circle. From leaving Tottenham and joining Barnet, where we'd slipped into non league, and then getting back into the Premier League with Swansea after a spell at Southend.
"What we have achieved at Swansea has been incredible and beyond our wildest dreams. If someone had said to me the day I signed here that we'd get into the Premier League, win the League Cup and get into Europe then I'd need some convincing.
"But that's what we have done, and everyone here has played their part and should feel so proud with everything that has been achieved.
"I'm sad to be leaving, but it is in the best interests of both myself and the club."
Gower made 145 appearances for the Swans following his free transfer from Southend in June, 2008, scoring three goals - including crucial two strikes in the run-in to the Play-Offs.
Having arrived initially as a winger after Roberto Martinez secured his services, Gower would later move inside and fulfil a holding midfielder role under Paulo Sousa and then Brendan Rodgers.
In the club's first season in the Premier League, Gower was recognised at one point as the most creative player in Europe.
And despite finding it hard to break into Michael Laudrup's plans this year, Gower admits he has enjoyed working with every manager at the Swans.
The Londoner had been quoted criticising the Great Dane for not playing him in a recent interview, but he was keen to clear that up.
He added: "The players and managers I have played with have been top class. I arrived here as a winger who scored goals to a holding midfielder, so I have evolved as a footballer.
"I was able to do that by learning under each manager I played under, and also learning from the players around me.
"Last season, I was playing alongside the likes of Leon (Britton), Joe (Allen) and Gylfi (Sigurdsson). It shows that no matter what age you are, you can still learn.
"This season has been difficult for me.
"I made comments about being a little frustrated, but it was by no means meant as an attack on the manager, players or club.
"I have far too much respect for this club to talk badly of it. Of course, I wasn't playing and you're going to be frustrated when that happens.
"But Michael Laudrup has delivered huge success to this club, leading us to a top-half finish and winning the club's first major trophy.
"So I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression with what has been written. I wouldn't want to burn any bridges with the club, because Swansea, the fans and the city have all been great to me."
Gower spent time on loan at Championship club Charlton at the tail end of this season, helping the club to within three points of the play-offs.
And although he is unsure of where he will be playing his football next season, he is sure of one thing.
"It goes without saying that I'll be looking out for Swansea's results straight away after every game," he added.
"I have made friends for life at this club. It is such a close-knit club which makes it easy for every player to settle in.
"And the supporters have been absolutely superb too. They appreciate the style of football in place, and they get behind the boys everywhere we play - home and away.
"At away grounds it can really make a difference when our supporters are making the most noise - it gives the boys a lift.
"The supporters have played a massive part in getting the club to where it is today. They can be very proud of the backing they've given the players in every game.
"But I hope to be back at the Liberty watching the boys as a fan next season at some point. When you spend five years at a club then it has a place in your heart."
Everyone at Swansea City would like to thank Mark for his excellent contribution during his time with the club, and wish him all the best for the future.