Grimes ready for Exeter homecoming

19th July 2019
First team
Matt Grimes

Matt Grimes returns to the place where his career started on Saturday. Yet his pathway to Swansea City could have been so different.

Exeter born and bred, Grimes will, for the first time in his career, walk into the away dressing room at St James Park when Steve Cooper’s side continue their pre-season preparations.

It will prove a strange moment for the midfielder, who first joined his hometown club 14 years ago.

After progressing through the age groups and, finally, into the first team, Grimes made a big enough impression to be named the Grecians’ player of the year in his debut season.

Halfway through the next campaign, his performances were enough to convince the Swans to take him to the Liberty Stadium.

Despite leaving in the January, Grimes was still named in the League Two team of the year.

A Premier League debut followed, while he was part of England Under-21s’ successful Toulon Tournament win in 2016.

It could, however, have been oh so different.

“I was only ten when I joined on trial for six weeks. I wasn’t good enough in that time, so I had another six weeks to convince them to take me on, which they did,” said Grimes.

“It was massive for myself and my family to not only play for Exeter through the age groups but to sign a professional contact.

“I made my debut against Wimbledon. I remember it quite well. I didn’t expect to play, even though a few of the midfielders were injured.

“It was a breakthrough season for me. I was just enjoying my football and it went well.”

Later that summer Grimes was lining up against the Swans in a pre-season friendly, playing an hour as the visitors won 2-0 thanks to goals from Bafe Gomis and Josh Sheehan.

Six months later, Grimes was a Premier League player.

“A lot happened in such a short space of time,” said Grimes. “I remember the day before the friendly game at St James Park. We travelled back from Brazil in the evening the day before as Exeter were out there for a few games, and then we had Swansea to play – that was the last thing we needed, because Swansea passed Premier League teams off the park! I was in awe of the teams Swansea had.

“Then it was not too long after that Swansea came in for me. I remember the conversation with my agent at the time. He said ‘how do you feel playing for a team in all white?’.

“I said surely not Swansea? I couldn’t believe it!

“It was sad to leave Exeter, but it was a no-brainer when a club like Swansea comes in for you.

“I have fond memories of Exeter and it’s a club that I will always have close to my heart for obvious reasons. I always look out for their results.”

Matt Grimes

After loan spells at Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United and Northampton Town, Grimes has finally found his feet in SA1.

Having played a starring role under Graham Potter last season, the 24-year-old walked away with four trophies at the club’s end-of-season awards night.

Now he returns ‘home’, where he looks to help the Swans continue their preparations for the new Championship campaign.

“A lot has changed since I was there five or six years ago but I’m looking forward to being back on home soil,” added Grimes, who scored twice in 50 appearances last term.

“It will be weird going into the away dressing room for the first time.

“But as strange as Saturday will be, I go there looking to help us continue our pre-season on a winning note.

“The manager came in this summer and wanted to build on the foundations, rather than strip away anything.

“He’s continued the good work and everyone is looking forward to the new season.”

Tickets for Saturday’s game are now only available on the day.

Tickets are priced:

Adult - £12

Seniors 65+ /Students/Under-18s - £6

Under12s - £2.

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