Howard returns to Swans
26th September 2014
Former Swans defender Michael Howard has returned to the club to join the Community Trust department at the Liberty Stadium.
Howard has been appointed as a Sign Up for Success Trainer with the aim of helping young people have a focus with many community-based projects in the local area.
It sees the 35-year-old almost turn full circle as he returns to the club that gave him his first break in professional football.
"I've been working as a trainer for the last six or seven years," he said. "A job came up to start a new success project here within the Community Trust and I was fortunate to get it.
"The project has got an element of football involved in it. It is a 12-hour education programme, with three extra hours of sport - and not just football.
"We'll be launching that next month, specifically targeting 16-24 year olds in different areas around Swansea in partnership with the Four Housing Association.
"But it's something I'm really looking forward to and can't wait to get started."
Howard joined the Swans as an 18-year-old back in 1998, going on to make over 250 appearances for the club in a six-year spell.
The popular defender also played against Hull back in 2003 as Swansea City recorded a famous win to preserve their Football League status, before going on to have spells at both Morecambe and Oxford.
After a brief spell with a few clubs in Wales, Howard landed a job with Opta - the statistical partner of the Premier League.
That allowed him to continue working in football, and he has been a regular at the Liberty Stadium since last season, confirming bookings, substitutions and key incidents for each game.
But, as he revealed, Howard didn't necessarily crave a life in football after hanging up his boots due to suffering a stress fracture in his back.
"I wanted to do various things after I finished playing," he said. "Obviously injury cut my career short somewhat, but I went to college and got qualified to deliver to adults.
"I got some of coaching badges as well but I just sort of fell into my previous job of doing a work programme for TGB Learning.
"I was a bit disinterested when I finished playing, so I was glad when Opta gave me a chance to do some work for them and then this job came up. But it is great to be back here at Swansea."
After joining the Swans as a youngster, the Birkenhead-born defender played a key role in helping the club win the Division Three title in 2000.
However, relegation followed the year after in 2003 the club were 90 minutes away from dropping out of the Football League.
A famous 4-2 victory over Hull preserved the club's professional status and Howard spent one more season at the Vetch Field before departing for Morecambe.
"The first three years went very well," he reflects. "I was a regular in the first team at the age of 18 and we had a good team then.
"We had some success in the play-offs and FA Cup runs before winning the title in 2000.
"Then we went on a downward spiral for a few seasons until things started to change for the better.
"I remember when Nick Cusack was in charge we had a trial game to try and attract some new players, and people off the streets turned up to play!
"It was ridiculous when you look back at it now, but that was how it was back then."
But with Howard now a regular spectator here at the Liberty Stadium, he is delighted to see how well his former club are faring in the Barclays Premier League.
"It's absolutely fantastic what's happening at the moment - and great for the city," he said. "I was at the West Brom game here recently and they were superb.
"It's tough in football to work your way up through the divisions, but Swansea have recruited well and have had a nice blend of managers and players over the years.
"The squad has delivered on the pitch and Swansea is a now a club that players want to come and play for and I think they will be in the Premier League for a long time."