Tivonge Rushesha reflects on breakthrough season
The football season may be suspended, but it's been a campaign to remember for Tivonge Rushesha after the defender made his first-team debut and earned a first professional contract with Swansea City.
The 17-year-old’s achievements are even more remarkable considering they all occurred while he was still a second-year scholar.
After breaking into the under-23 squad last season, Rushesha has been a regular feature for the development side this term – making the right-back spot his own with 12 appearances in Premier League 2 Division 2.
The Zimbabwean-born full-back saw his solid start to the campaign rewarded with a first-team debut in August’s Carabao Cup clash against Cambridge United at the Liberty.
Rushesha, who has been with the Swans since under-12 level, became one of the youngest players ever to represent the club at the tender age of just 17 years and 35 days old.
Fast forward just over four months and another significant milestone was accomplished, as he put pen to paper on his first pro deal with Swansea – keeping him in SA1 until the summer of 2022.
The Wales Under-19 international has also trained with Steve Cooper’s first-team squad at Fairwood on several occasions and, once the season resumes, is understandably hungry for more opportunities.
“I’ve enjoyed playing football, we’ve won lots of games, and I’ve learned a lot. Overall, it’s been a very enjoyable season,” he said.
“When I signed my scholarship, my main goal was to break into the under-23s as early as possible, so to be with them pretty much full-time as a second-year scholar is a good thing to achieve.
“Playing regular football is also really good because that’s what you want to be doing on a full-time basis at the highest level.
“The first-team debut is something you always want to achieve. Now I’ve done that, I must try to get in and around training with them more often.
“Whenever I have, I feel like I’ve stepped up a level because the pace is quicker, and the standard is higher. Now I’ve experienced that, I just want more of it.”