'Tatey was everything you'd want as a manager'
There were quicker defenders and there were others who were more physically imposing.
Some were blessed with both pace and power.
But there were few who could match Alan Tate when it came to understanding the game.
“He played football with his brain,” Brendan Rodgers says.
“That is the case with all the best players. They play with their brains. Their legs are just there to help them along.”
Rodgers spent two seasons working with Tate after taking over as Swansea City manager in 2010.
And what memorable seasons they were.
Tate played 48 times during the 2010-11 campaign as the Swans won promotion to the Premier League.
His appearances in the following season were more limited, but that was thanks largely to the broken leg Tate suffered in a freak accident involving a golf buggy.
Even then, however, Tate’s personality meant that he had a role to play behind the scenes as the Swans found their feet in the top division.
“I remember when I got the Swansea job, I was interested to come in and work with Tatey,” Rodgers adds.
“When my Watford team played against him, the perception was that okay, he may not be the quickest, but he’d had a good upbringing at Manchester United and he had played a lot of games.
“But you only get to see the true value of Tatey when you work with him every day.
“From a character perspective, he is everything you want as a manager.”
Rodgers recalls how Tate was a key figure in the dressing room as well as being a dependable performer in a variety of positions on the pitch.
“Tatey is tough, he loves his football and he had no ego,” the Celtic manager adds. “He wanted to train every day and he was up for every single game we played.
“I felt that people like Tatey, Garry Monk and Mark Gower were really important for us.
“They really helped form the younger players, people like Scott Sinclair and Fabio Borini.
“Although Tatey was not the club captain, he was certainly a leader in that squad, and I saw many great examples of that during my time in charge.”
It was because of those qualities that Tate got the honour of leading out the Swans in their first Premier League game, at Manchester City in August 2011.
The likes of Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Leon Britton and new recruit Michel Vorm were also in the starting line-up but, with Monk absent, Tate was handed the armband.
It was one of the proudest days of his career.
Another was the game that got the Swans to the top tier – the play-off final against Reading the previous May.
Sinclair may have snatched the headlines thanks to his hat-trick in that 4-2 win, but Rodgers is not about to forget the part Tate played at Wembley.
“He was directly up against Reading’s most dangerous player, Jimmy Kebe,” the Ulsterman remembers.
“Kebe had trickery and great pace, but Tatey was so clever that he never got into a one-v-one position with him. He never got isolated because he was such a clever defender.
“Not only that, but he had quality of passing and he was able to keep things simple when he was on the ball.
“He showed that at Wembley. He actually created the first goal from the penalty spot and also the last one, when he cut inside and found Fabio Borini.
“That shows you the temperament he had, to be able to do that even on the biggest stage.
“That game was life-changing for all of us who were involved. He helped changed all our lives with his performance that day.”
Having left Wales to take the Liverpool job, Rodgers is relishing the chance to take up a seat in the home dugout at the Liberty once more.
Alongside Brian Flynn, he will be in charge of the Swans Legends XI taking on a Manchester United Legends side in Tate’s testimonial on Wednesday, August 9 (7pm).
“Tatey’s story is a wonderful example for younger players,” reckons Rodgers.
“He was never the quickest, but he could get there because he could read the game.
“He was clever in his understanding and his knowledge of football that it took him all the way to the Premier League.
“He was an amazing to work with, and I am honoured that he has asked me to come and be involved in his testimonial. I am really looking forward to the night.”
Tickets for Tate’s testimonial are priced at £12 for adults and £6 for children.
They are available through the Liberty Stadium website here https://www.eticketing.co.uk/ssmc/Events/Index the ticket office in person or by phone on 0844 815 6665.
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