Where are they now? John Hills
Ever wondered what former Swans stars have been up to since hanging up their boots?
Well you are in the right place.
As part of a regular feature, we take a look at what some ex-Swansea City favourites have done since leaving SA1.
Here we catch up with former defender John Hills.
A lasting reminder of John Hills’ loan spells with Swansea City at the start of his professional career can be found on the wall at his Lytham St Anne’s home.
A framed photograph captures the former defender’s first senior goal, which came in the Swans’ 2-0 win over Scunthorpe United in August 1997.
“It still brings a smile to my face seeing that picture,” says Hills, who was loaned to the Swans from Everton during the 1996-97 season and the first few months of the following campaign.
“I can still remember the goal. The ball came to me just outside the box and I took a touch which gave me the space to hit it. I got a good connection on the shot and it went into the bottom corner.
“It really was an unbelievable feeling and meant even more that it was at Vetch Field with the home fans jumping up and down.”
Hills moved to Everton from hometown club Blackpool in 1995 and made his first-team debut as a substitute in a 3-1 defeat by Wimbledon the following year.
He joined the Swans on a three-month loan deal shortly afterwards, making 11 league appearances in South Wales.
“At that time, I was a young lad desperate to play regular first-team football, so to get that opportunity at Swansea was fantastic for me,” Hills reflects.
“The late Billy Ayre was there as assistant manager and, having grown up as a Blackpool fan, it was incredible being around an individual who is such a legend at the club I support.”
Hills was back at the Vetch that August for another short spell, in which he played a further seven times in the league.
He spent the second part of that season on loan with his beloved Blackpool, re-signing on a permanent basis the following summer and going on to score 20 goals in just under 200 appearances at Bloomfield Road.
He also turned out for the likes of Gillingham, Sheffield Wednesday, Fleetwood Town and AFC Fylde before hanging up his boots in 2011, with a good range of coaching experience already under his belt.
“I retired earlier than I was expecting at 31,” he adds.
“I was involved in running a pub in Blackpool for the first few years after I retired and I also did some grassroots coaching around the area, both with my own academy and the Milligan-McCann Academy, which is run by my former team-mates Jamie Milligan and Gavin McCann.
“While I was at Fleetwood, I helped set up the club’s first youth academy with then manager Micky Mellon.
“After that, I went to AFC Fylde as assistant manager whilst coaching the under-16s at Blackpool, where I ended up becoming the club’s head of youth.
“I’ve also had coaching roles at Southport and Hyde, having gained my Uefa A Licence at St George’s Park.”
Hills has since stepped away from coaching and now runs several franchises at international parcel delivery service DPD.
And it is a role that provides a lot of enjoyment for the 40-year-old.
“One Christmas, I did some temporary parcel-dropping with DPD, which I enjoyed,” he explains. “The company offered me chance to run my own franchise after that.
“I’ve been able to build a small business with that over the last five years, employing a few people to work with me.
“It’s ideal as I have two young children and I can structure my job around my family life, enabling me to spend weekends with them.”