TOP-FLIGHT JACKS: Leighton James

30th November 2015
Top Flight Jacks


In our regular website feature, we focus on players who featured for Swansea City during the club's previous foray into the top flight of English football.
Here, we put the spotlight on Welsh wing wizard Leighton James


LEIGHTON JAMES
Date of birth: February 16, 1953.
Appearances/goals for the Swans: 125 apps; 34 goals.
Former clubs: Burnley (1968-1975, 1978-1980, 1986-1989), Derby County (1975-1977), QPR (1977-1978), Swansea City (1980-1983), Sunderland (1983-1984), Bury (1984-1985), Newport County (1985-1986)
Memorable moment: In 1980, James scored a memorable hat-trick at the Vetch Field against his former club Derby County.
Did you know? At Wembley in 1977, James' winner from the penalty spot earned Wales their first ever victory over England on opposition territory.

A fast and tricky winger, Leighton James represented Wales at schoolboy level right the way through to the senior international side over a period of 15 years.
He started his playing career at Burnley, a club that prided itself in its development of youth, and made his first-team debut in November 1970 against Nottingham Forest in the First Division.
His rapid rise was evident when he won the first of his 54 full international caps at the tender age of 18 against Czechoslovakia in 1971.  His match-winning performances for club and country eventually caught the attention of high-flyers Derby County, who signed him in 1975 for a then club-record fee of £310,000.
Though he proved a success with the Rams, James was on the move again in 1977 when he joined Queens Park Rangers. But he struggled to settle in London and, after just one season, moved back to Burnley in a deal worth £165,000.
However, when Swans manager John Toshack considered the need to strengthen his squad for an assault on the Second Division title in 1980, he turned to his former Welsh team-mate James, paying Burnley £130,000 to take him to the Vetch Field.
The signing of James proved a masterstroke by Toshack as the winger helped fire the Swans to promotion to the First Division at the first time of asking, including scoring the all-important first goal against Preston North End in the final game of the season that secured the club's promotion to the top flight.
Having finished his maiden Swans campaign as the club's top goalscorer, James continued his fine form into the club's inaugural season in Division One, scoring goals on a regular basis while forming a lethal partnership down the left flank with Yugoslavian Dzemal Hadziabdic.
But the following season, problems at the club led to James' departure to Sunderland on a free transfer.
After a brief spell in the North East of England, James moved to Bury and then Newport County before returning to where it all began at Burnley in 1986.
After hanging up his boots, James moved into management, most notably as manager of Welsh side Llanelli, before finding a second career in the media on radio and television, where his forthright views were guaranteed to liven up any debate.
The winger was inducted into the Robbie James Wall of Fame in October 2013 to mark his contribution to Swansea City.