Having been born in Swansea in 1981 and supported the Swans from an early age, Chris Todd’s professional debut for his hometown club is an occasion he will never forget.
The defender also spent time with Birmingham City as a youngster and had a trial with Manchester United prior to joining the Swans Academy as a 14-year-old.
His first-team breakthrough came when he started in the 1-1 draw with Northampton Town in the third tier at Vetch Field in March 2001.
“That was a massive moment for me – making my debut for Swansea,” reflects Todd, who went on to make 46 appearances and score four times for the club prior to being released in June 2002.
“In the run-up to that game, John Hollins went to meet my mum and dad to tell them I’d be in the team. That was a nice touch, making them aware of what was going to be happening.
“Getting to play for my home club – and the club I’d grown up supporting – was very special for me.”
Despite the Swans’ struggles at the time, Todd impressed with his performances during the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons.
Relegation from Division Two in 2001 was followed by a 20th-place finish the following campaign, while the Swans also suffered the disappointment of back-to-back FAW Premier Cup final defeats during that time.
“I started in the 2001 final against Wrexham and my abiding memory of that was seeing Lee Trundle play for Wrexham,” Todd remembers.
“There was a lot of talk about his ability at that time and we got to see that for ourselves in that game. He was so hard to mark and it was a great test coming up against him as a young player.”
Todd was allowed to leave the Swans at the end of the 2001-02 campaign, with the defender moving to League of Ireland side Drogheda United.
He then enjoyed a long and successful career in both the Football League and the National League, turning out for Exeter City, Torquay United, Salisbury City, Newport County, Forest Green Rovers, Hereford United and Eastleigh.
“I really enjoyed my professional career and my time with Exeter City and Torquay United was particularly successful,” says Todd. “I captained Exeter in the Conference National play-off final at Wembley, which we lost to Morecambe.
“I moved to Torquay when they were in the Conference, too. We got to the FA Trophy Final, but I was again on the losing side at Wembley.
“Thankfully, on my third trip, we won the play-off final to get promoted to the Football League.”
The ups and downs of a career in football were put into perspective in November 2008, when Todd was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) – a rare strain of cancer.
Thankfully, he was successfully treated for his illness and remains in remission.
In 2012, the former defender released his autobiography entitled More Than Football in the Blood, telling the story of his fight with the condition.
“At the time of writing the book, it felt like a release for me to be able to put my experiences down on paper and get my head around everything,” explains Todd.
“It was great to be able to put a positive story out there that has hopefully inspired people going through the same thing that I did.
“I was really pleased to be able to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research in the process, as they have played a big part in supporting me.”
Back in 2015, Todd became player-manager of Eastleigh, steering the club to a seventh-place finish in the National League and the third round of the FA Cup in his first season in charge, before he was dismissed just four games into the following campaign.
Now aged 36, he is a player-coach at National League South side Truro City these days, while he also coaches at South Devon College.
“I’m at the college from Monday to Friday, while we train twice a week at Truro City and have a game on a Saturday and sometimes on a Tuesday,” adds Todd.
“The two roles have enabled me to get back into what I love, which is the coaching side of things.”