Tate's nurturing next generation of Swans

14th September 2016

Footballing talent, tactical nous and physical prowess all help.
But when he speaks to the youngsters coming through Swansea City's Academy, Alan Tate states that heart is key.
Tate's last Swans appearance came almost four years ago, yet the former defender remains a hero to the club's fans.
Why? Because, reckons Tate, of the size of his ticker.



"Very rarely do people get careers on talent alone," he says.
"The reality is that to have a career in professional football, you have to have heart as well.
"I am sure if you ask any Swans fan they would say the best thing about me was that I tried my best in every game.
"I think that's the minimum you should expect from players. That was just my mindset and my character - that's the only way I could play.
"You try to get that across to the young lads, but the reality is not all of them will be professional footballers. You try to get as many through as you can, but it's a tough business to be in."



Tate is back doing what he has done for most of his adult life - going to work every day wearing a Swans crest on his chest.
After almost 350 appearances, Tate's remarkable spell as a Swans player officially came to an end in 2015.
Now, after a brief stint at Port Talbot, a man who represented the club in all four divisions has hung up his boots to focus exclusively on a career in coaching.
Tate's proudest moment was captaining the Swans in their first Premier League game, at Manchester City in 2011.
Yet the former Manchester United youngster declares that the top flight was too high a level for him.



"When I look back at my playing career, I am happy," Tate says.
"I remember when we got promoted from League Two people said I would not be good enough for League One, but I got player of the year at that level.
"It was exactly the same when we got to the Championship, but I got player of the year at that level too.
"But going into the Premier League, although I played a handful of games, was a step too far for me.
"I always felt comfortable in the Championship. I was someone who was never really a great athlete, but I thought my way through games.
"With me it was more about thought and heart than being an athlete. But you get to the Premier League and even in the first game, I could see everyone's thought process was just the same as mine, if not better.
"They were also better athletes, so I sort of knew from that moment.
"I might have played more games had I not broken my leg in the first Premier League season, but the injury was fine when I came back. I just felt it was a step too far for me."
These days, Tate gets regular questions from Swans youngsters about "what matchday is like" or "how the first team do this or that".
"It's good because I can tell them about my experiences," he says.



Tate spends his days working with the under-17s, who are his team, and the under-18s, where he helps fellow coaches Eric Ramsay and Chris Llewellyn. 
Having completed his B licence at the age of 29, Tate is in the final stages of securing his A licence.
The next step for the 34-year-old will be the Pro licence, the highest coaching qualification there is.  
He first started working with Swans youngsters last November, before landing a full-time post in the summer.



"I have always said I want to try my hand at management at some point, but obviously that's a long way down the line," Tate says.
"Hopefully, this is the first step towards becoming a manager one day. I have never hidden the fact that that's what I want to do.
"I have personal targets I want to achieve. I am not going to say them publicly, but I have ambitions. I don't see the point of aiming for something relatively low. You have to aim to for the best."



It is a decent bet that Tate's goals include climbing the coaching ladder at the Liberty Stadium.
He may hail from the North East, but Tate has felt at home in these parts since his early days as a Swan.
"I quickly made friends when I first came down here and they are still my friends to this day," he adds.
"The majority of my life has been here. I had 16 years at home and then I was in Manchester for a few years, but the rest has been in Swansea.
"All my adult life has been here, really, and it will always be home for me now no matter where football takes me.
"I might go anywhere in the world through football, but I will always come back here."




Tate: My top five moments as a Swan
Aug 15, 2011
Manchester City 4 Swansea City 0
The first one's easy. There have been much more important games for the club - and far better results - but this is a personal one for me. I was the first player to captain Swansea in the Premier League. To me that's probably the biggest honour I could have had. There can only be one first, and no-one can ever take that away from me. That's probably my proudest achievement.

May 30, 2011
Swansea City 4 Reading 2
The play-off final at Wembley. I just remember thinking after we got to 4-2, 'Wow, we have done it'. We knew then they were not coming back. You are thinking, especially me and Leon (Britton) and Gaz (Monk), we have come from League Two to being a Premier League club. It was surreal. We went into celebrate in the dressing room. Then I remember grabbing a bottle of Heineken and sitting on my own on the advertising hoardings and just crying. I was just thinking 'Wow, what's happened?'.

April 2, 2006
Carlisle United 1 Swansea City 2
The Football League Trophy final. Realistically, that was the biggest thing we could win at the time. It was the early days of our rise up the leagues. Trunds (Lee Trundle) scored a great goal, Carlisle equalised and then Bayo (Akinfenwa) got the winner. We had such a good, close squad and it was great to win that together, especially because most of us had come up from the bottom division.

May 3, 2003
Swansea City 4 Hull City 2
That was possibly the most important win we have ever had. I was only on loan, I was 20, but I already understood what it meant to the club. It was a big game for the players who I had spent every day with. At that level, the money is not there so you know how big it is for them. If we hadn't stayed up, you don't know where the club would have ended up. But for the Hull win, nothing that's happened since would have come. People say the club would have come back, but plenty haven't. Look at Kidderminster Harriers or Macclesfield Town. It's easy to say we are a big club now but we were no bigger than Macclesfield at the time.

May 16, 2011
Swansea City 3 Nottingham Forest 1
Nottingham Forest in the play-off semi-final second leg. Our 3-2 win over Cardiff in 2009 sticks in the memory because of the atmosphere, but Forest at home was the best of the lot. The 1-0 win at Cardiff in 2010 was another great day, but Forest was a massive game for us and I can't remember the Liberty ever being louder than it was that night.


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