As a youngster, David D’Auria played for the renowned North End Juniors in the Mayhill area of Swansea, alongside current Sunderland manager Chris Coleman.
Like ‘Cookie’, D’Auria went on to sign a professional contract with his hometown club at the start of a career that would also see him turn out for the likes of Scarborough, Scunthorpe United, Hull City and Chesterfield.
D’Auria scored 37 goals in 283 appearances in the Football League, six of which came in 45 games for the Swans.
“I originally joined Swansea back in 1986, training with the club at the old Morfa Stadium on a Thursday night,” recalls the former midfielder.
“A lot of ex-professionals will say some of their best days in football were their apprentice years and that was certainly the case for me.
“You were getting to play football with your mates and have a laugh – it was great.”
D’Auria’s debut for the Swans came as a substitute in a 2-1 defeat to Newport County at Vetch Field in October 1987, but there is one match in particular that stands out in his memory.
“The most memorable match I ever started for Swansea was probably away to Panathinaikos in the 1989-90 European Cup Winners’ Cup,” he reflects.
“Ian Evans had taken over from Terry Yorath as manager earlier that year and I’d obviously done enough in the league matches I’d played in at the start of that season to start in such a big game.
“The atmosphere that night blew me away. There were something like 53,000 supporters in the Olympic Stadium in Athens, which is the biggest gate I ever played in front of during my career.
“I remember getting goosebumps on the back of my neck walking out onto the pitch.
“They scored in the opening few minutes if my memory serves me right, but we played well and Paul Raynor and John Salako scored for us in a 3-2 defeat that meant the tie was still well and truly alive ahead of the second leg at the Vetch.”
D’Auria also has vivid memories of the return fixture, in which he came on as a substitute in a 3-3 draw.
“Andy Meville scored twice that night with Robbie James getting our other goal,” he continues.
“The Vetch was packed and it was a fantastic atmosphere for that one, too, as we came so close to causing a big upset.”
After being released by the Swans in 1991, D’Auria moved to Merthyr Tydfil and then Barry Town, with whom he won five trophies and was a prolific goalscorer from midfield.
“When I was at Barry, I scored in our 2-1 win over Cardiff City in the 1994 Welsh Cup final,” he recalls. “That put me in the shop window so to speak with regards to playing in the Football League again.
“I played in that Barry team with plenty of ex-Swans and one of them, David Hough, scored our winner. Alan Curtis was also playing for us.”
Towards the end of his professional career with Hull City and Chesterfield, D’Auria studied a five-year evening course in plumbing and gas heating that led to his future career as a gas engineer.
“I started working as a gas engineer when I moved back to the Swansea area in 2002,” he says.
“I’ve worked for a variety of companies over the last 15 years and I currently work for SSE SWALEC, with my main role seeing me carry out boiler breakdown maintenance.
“My qualification, which I obtained during my playing days, has stood me in good stead as it gave me something to fall back on after football.”
D’Auria has remained involved in the game since returning to Swansea, playing for the likes of Llanelli, Skewen and Neath, before becoming a coach at Gorseinon-based club Garden Village.
He took over as the Canaries’ manager this season and has overseen a decent campaign.
“We were joint-top of the league at the start of the year, which is good considering my remit this season was to keep the club in the division really,” he smiles.
“It’s my first job as a manager, having previously done some coaching, so it’s a big learning curve for me. It’s something I’m really enjoying.”