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Jack the Lad: Beaming with pride

Back in the early 1980s Swansea City came up with a slogan which was tied in to the building of the new East Stand at the Vetch Field.

Fans were urged to “Be Proud to be a Swan” and support the ground’s redevelopment project. The slogan also appeared on the matchday programme.

I have always been proud to be a Swan. But there have been few moments in my 40-plus years of supporting the club I have felt prouder than when Bersant Celina curled his perfectly placed shot past Manchester City’s Ederson last Saturday evening.

The Swans were leading the team lauded by some as possibly the finest club side on the planet by two goals to nil – and they were worth every inch of that lead.

What made the moment even better was that it was a goal that the visitors, or any other team in world football for that matter, would have been thoroughly proud of.

To score a goal of that towering quality against such an outstanding team just added to its lustre.

I thought Pep Guardiola’s reaction to the goal was telling. He just sat in his seat. No leaping up, no admonishing his players for conceding the goal, no pointing out how they could have stopped it. He just sat there.

In truth, there was nothing he could do or say. Sometimes goals are of such high quality there is nothing you can do to stop them.

This was one of those goals.

And just when you thought you couldn’t get any prouder, you realised who had provided the final flourish to the latest in a growing list of brilliant team goals scored by the Swans this season.

Less than 72 hours earlier Celina had seen his attempted penalty squirt sideways on the sodden Hawthorns pitch against West Bromwich Albion.

The images went viral on social media with a tidal wave of unsympathetic comments.

It’s a testament to the young man’s strength of character that he bounced back to produce such a confident and stylish finish to the length-of-the-field move.

I know we ultimately lost, and I hate playing the role of plucky and gallant loser as much as anyone, and I probably better not start on the subject of VAR as I will be here all week!

But on this occasion, despite the defeat and the frustration, I still can’t help feeling phenomenally proud of Potter’s Pups.

And there’s another emotion too . . . excitement.

How exciting is it that this young squad of players can produce the kind of football that can leave the finest team in the land without an immediate answer?

The Swans’ new chairman Trevor Birch describes himself as a football man. In that case, I bet he can’t wait to get started in his new role knowing the kind of talent there is at the club to nurture, develop and hopefully add to.

I know there are matters to address away from the pitch, but Graham Potter and his talented young squad have proved there is plenty to build upon for the remainder of this season and beyond.

If that wasn’t enough, a number of the squad, including Celina, will be playing for their respective countries this week. Particularly satisfying is the fact that no less than seven young Swans will be on duty with Wales’ age group sides, along with three more in Ryan Giggs’ senior squad.

I couldn’t be prouder.

Come on you Swans!

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Jack the Lad

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