Thank you, Ashley!

19th October

Cheers Ash, what have I got left to dream about now?!

As captain of  the Swans and Wales you're making my two greatest sporting wishes come true.
The Swans flying high in the top flight of British football and Wales in the finals tournament of a major competition for the first time since 1958 .

What sporting ambitions are there left to fulfil now that you've delivered on both of those? 

Hey, you don't play cricket do you? It would be fantastic to see Glamorgan win the County Championship again! 

I know, I'm just getting greedy now, but with Wales having finally exorcised the ghosts of all those failed qualifying tournaments, anything seems possible.

Especially when you think about all those near misses and hard luck stories the national team has endured over the past six decades.

When you go back through all those campaigns and consider some of the Welsh players who never made it to a finals tournament, you realise the magnitude of Ash, Neil Taylor and all's achievement.

The great players to miss out include Ryan Giggs, Ian Rush, Neville Southall, John Toshack and today's visiting manager Mark Hughes who came agonisingly close as a player and a manager.

I know some here this afternoon may not share my enthusiasm for international football, but I have always dreamed of success for the national team as much as I have craved it for my club side.

While the Swans were in the lower divisions after their all too brief spell in the first division back in the early 1980s, Wales gave me the chance to see some of the world's top players . . . Gullit, Van Basten, Hagi, Klinnsman, Mattheus, Careca, Baggio, to name just a few.

Even better, there was even some sporadic success and excitement along the way with some qualification near misses and memorable wins over the likes of world super powers Germany, Brazil and Italy.

Then, when Wales were going through some of their toughest times in recent years, the Swans returned to the top flight and the likes of Aguero, Van Persie, Suarez and Rooney, became regulars here at the Liberty as the Swans also took some big name scalps like Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.

In addition, there have been some never to be forgotten occasions like the Play-Off Final, the League Cup Final and a return to European competition.

The closest I've been to Wales and the Swans enjoying such levels of success at the same time was back during the 1981-82 season, when the Swans were riding high at the top of the First Division and Wales were on the brink of qualification to the 1982 World Cup.

But now, both teams are once again enjoying success at the same time - the Swans having become an established Premier League side and Wales having recently been announced as the eighth best team in the world.

I'm going to type that again, first of all because I can't quite believe I typed it, and if I did, it's well worth typing again: Wales were recently announced the eighth best team in the world!

Now we all know that the FIFA rankings are about as reliable and as unfathomable as the Duckworth Lewis method of deciding rain-effected cricket matches, so let's not get too carried away.

But we endured years scanning down the rankings to see Wales languishing outside the top 100 below the likes of Guatemala and Haiti.

So I think we have every right now to scan up the rankings to find Wales in the top 10 above the likes of Italy, France, Spain and England. Yes, I'm going to type that again too . . . England!

In purely statistical terms, the national team's rise has been even more meteoric than the Swans.

Our boys took a comparatively laborious decade to get from 92nd in the football league to the top of the domestic football structure, while Wales have positively rocketed from 117th to 8th in just four years!

And as much as you may mock the make up of the FIFA rankings, and at times it does seem as if they do make them up, what can't be questioned or derided is the fact that they earned Wales a place amongst the top seeds for the next World Cup qualification. Yes, I'm going to write that again too . . . Wales were amongst the top seeds for the World Cup!

Hang on, there's something I can start dreaming of . . . qualifying for the World Cup finals.

With the Swans in the Premier League, Wales in the finals of the European Championships, why not?

And who knows what the Swans are capable of over the next few seasons? 

Perhaps this is just the beginning for club and country.

C'mon you Swans.