Where are they now? Jeremy Charles
16th NovemberWhere Are They Now?
Have you ever wondered what a former Swans player has been up to since hanging up his boots?
In a regular feature, we catch up with past players to give you the answers.
This week we focus on former Swans forward Jeremy Charles, who played 247 league matches for the Swans between 1976 and 1983.
Charles is now a Director of Charles Sydenham Vehicle Leasing and also work as a corporate host for his former club Oxford United.
By his own admission, Jeremy Charles was best known during his career as "'the son of Mel' and 'the nephew of John'". Both his father and uncle were famed Welsh international footballers of course but Jeremy had an impressive playing CV his own right. Capped 19 times for Wales between 1980 and 1986, the forward also played a major role in a significant period of Swansea City's history as the Jacks were promoted from the bottom tier in 1978 of the Football League to the top in 1982.
"I signed for Swansea pretty much after leaving school," says Charles. "My dad was very encouraging in terms of me following in his footsteps as a player. I went on to make my first-team debut for Swansea as a substitute on the opening day of the 1976-77 season against Newport County (August 14, 1976 when I was 16. By the end of the campaign, I had scored 26 goals as we finished fifth in the old Fourth Division. The following season (1977-78) we got our first promotion and the season after (1978-79) we went up again.
"We got promoted to the top flight in 1982 and it was quite a contrast going from our Fourth Division days and having a couple of thousand spectators on the terraces to playing in the top flight and squeezing 20,000 plus fans into the Vetch!"
Charles scored the Swans' first-ever top-flight goal in the 5-1 hammering of Leeds United (August 29, 1981) on the opening day of the 1981-82 season. Sadly, a number of injury problems restricted him to just 13 appearances that campaign.
"It was a season of mixed emotions for me as an individual and the team," reflects Charles. "We had topped the league table as late as the end of March that campaign, but then only ended up finishing sixth. We'd have more than taken that at the start of the season of course, but ultimately given the season we'd had, sixth place ended up being something of a disappointment. And for me, there were so many games when I could only watch on from the stands with my injuries, which was hard to take."
Charles left Swansea City in November 1983 to sign for Queens Park Rangers and then finished his career at Oxford United, where he played 46 league matches between 1985 and 1987 and netted 13 times. Aged just 27, injury problems forced him into retirement from playing but not before he enjoyed some special moments with the U's.
"I was fortunate enough to join Oxford United when they were top of the old Division Two and I was part of the team that got promoted to the top flight at the end of that campaign," smiles Charles. "I then scored in the final as we won the Milk Cup (now the Capital One Cup) the following season. Considering they were my two final seasons in professional football, it wasn't a bad way to bow out, even though it was obviously heart breaking to have to retire at 27.
"I can look back on my playing career as a whole with a lot of satisfaction... I won promotion on four occasions and I was part of a side that lifted a major trophy at Wembley. On top of that, I was fortunate enough to play at all levels for Wales from schoolboy all the way through to full international level. Every time I wore the Welsh shirt was a tremendously proud moment for me and I got to play with some incredible players like Neville Southall, Mark Hughes and Ian Rush."
Charles worked as a coach for a number of years after retiring, with spells at his former clubs Oxford United and Swansea City as well as Southampton prior to him establishing Jeremy Charles Corporate Hospitality in 2005 and Jeremy Charles Hospitality and Travel in 2009.
"I ran both those companies through until the end of last year," explains Charles. "We looked after a number of corporate clients including BlackBerry. This year, I've launched a car and van leasing firm with a colleague (Matthew Sydenham) called Charles Sydenham Leasing."
Ever busy, Jeremy also works as a host in the corporate hospitality areas at Oxford United's Kassam Stadium on match days and admitted to having "split loyalties" as the U's hosted the Swans in the FA Cup third round recently!