Good evening and welcome back to the Swansea.com Stadium for tonight’s Championship game against Stoke City.
We come into this fixture on the back of a late defeat against Blackburn on Saturday – a game which I thought we deserved at least a point from.
We created some good chances in the first half and restricted the opposition to very little, and to come away with a draw would have been a real positive after the midweek win over Blackpool.
But it wasn’t to be and now we have back-to-back home games to get ourselves in a position to attack the final period of the season.
As Russell alluded to after the win here against Blackpool, there was some tension around the stadium and whilst that is understandable, we all have to pull together and get behind the players and coaching staff.
We have a very young squad – one of the youngest in the division – and they are giving everything they have right now.
This is a tough league and it isn’t easy to do things the way we are doing it – trying to be different – and there is a real togetherness amongst the players which is great to see.
But they will need support from everyone, particularly if there are periods in games where things might not be going our way, your support is truly invaluable in those moments.
There has been some terrific atmospheres inside this stadium this season and we have eight games left on home soil, so let’s see where it takes us.
As supporters will be aware, the early bird deadline for season ticket renewals has passed, however supporters can still keep their seat for the 2023-24 campaign by renewing between now and Sunday, April 2. More information can be found via our dedicated web page HERE.
Finally, I’d like to welcome the management, players, supporters and directors from Stoke who have made the trip down to south Wales for this evening’s game.
Enjoy the game,
Good evening and welcome to the Swansea.com Stadium for this evening’s Championship fixture against Stoke City.
We return to home soil for what is an important game as we look to bounce back from defeat at Blackburn at the weekend.
We really should have come away from Ewood Park with at least a point, we controlled the game in the first half and we had opportunities to be more than a goal to the good at half-time.
The second half was more even, they changed shape with helped them a bit, and we did not match the intensity levels we had shown with the ball in that opening half.
We still defended well, with our three young centre-halves and Andy Fisher dealing with everything that came their way.
But we were left to rue one late lapse, which has been the source of much frustration for us this season and we know without some of those moments the picture would look very different.
When the emotions and adrenaline are flowing at times like that it can be difficult to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
My first game in charge of this club was at Ewood Park, and I felt Saturday’s performance – while not getting the result we wanted or deserved – underlined the clear progress we have made during our 18 months here.
In terms of our performances and the analysis we and others do, we are right up there among the best sides in the Championship in a number of areas.
We create among the highest number of chances and are among the highest scorers in the division, while we regularly limit opponents to very little at the other end.
The difficulty for us has been the nature of the chances we have given opponents, and there’s no denying it has hurt us.
But this is part of the process with a young squad, and we have regularly fielded either the youngest team or in the Championship or one of the youngest across much of the campaign.
I think the development in a number of those players has been clear to see; guys like Ollie Cooper, Ben Cabango and Nathan Wood among them.
It’s not just age, of course, it’s also about experience at the level and of the team that started on Saturday only four of them had made more than 100 Championship appearances.
It’s about those final small details – some of which will come with age and more games - that will make the difference for us.
Obviously – as will be the case for a lot of clubs - we hope we can still get ourselves into those play-off places, but if not we know we have put the foundations in place for a better future for the club.
The playing style we use at first-team level is now being coached and delivered through the Swansea City pathway, which also stands to have considerable benefits for us as a coaching staff and for the club itself moving forward.
We and the players will continue to work hard every day to keep building and keep improving, and we want to make the most of this home double-header we have coming up and deliver two strong performances, while hopefully getting the results to go with them.
I also want to take the opportunity to welcome Andreas Sondergaard to the club.
Andreas – a Denmark youth international – has joined us on a deal until the end of the season to help provide depth at the goalkeeping position following Steven Benda’s recent injury misfortune, and I am sure he will want to make the most of the opportunity.
On the subject of Steven, I also want to congratulate he and his partner Sally on the arrival of their first child, a baby girl named Sofia. We wish them every happiness as a family.
Enjoy the game,
Good evening and welcome to everyone joining us from around the world for this evening’s Championship fixture against Stoke City at the Swansea.com Stadium.
We made it more difficult for ourselves than we needed to last time out at home against Blackpool, but ultimately we got the three points and we were proud of getting through some tough moments to get the job done.
We then headed to Blackburn on Saturday for our third game in the space of eight days. We should have come away from that game with at least a point, we know it was inexcusable and we can’t keep conceding goals like that.
We know this is a really important part of the season and it’s going to be potentially decisive in ensuring we have something to play for over the final run in.
Like a lot of sides in this division, we are just looking to find that consistency of performances and results that can take you a long way in a very short space of time.
We have an opportunity with this being the first of two home games in succession, it’s down to us to make the most of it.
I’d like to welcome goalkeeper Andreas Sondergaard to the club, it was a hectic few days for him but he has settled in well and he gives us another option in an area where injuries have taken their toll recently.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to congratulate Steven Benda and his partner Sally on the birth of their daughter Sofia. It’s an incredible moment in anyone’s life to become a parent and we wish them every happiness as a family.
Enjoy the game today!
We welcome Stoke City to the Swansea.com Stadium tonight for yet another midweek fixture.
This fixture has been rearranged due to Stoke’s FA Cup commitments. Along with the change of date for both our Rotherham and West Brom matches, it means only three out of our final 10 home games will be played at 3pm on a Saturday.
With our supporters’ hats on we find this to be completely unacceptable and the EFL and TV companies have shown a complete lack of regard to the most important people of all: The Fans.
This was one of a number of key topics we discussed last week in a meeting with the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA).
All clubs are united in the fact that fans are disregarded when it comes to the scheduling of matches and this is being reported back to the EFL on our behalf by the FSA.
We met members of the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust at our Pod last Wednesday night and they were equally dismayed at the scheduling of their fixture, which meant they had to endure a six-hour trek home in the middle of the night.
We have also discussed this with the club for them to feed back to the EFL, because numbers in the stadium have been affected in recent weeks.
Obviously, a disappointing transfer window and poor results haven’t helped, but we yearn for a good old-fashioned game of football on a Saturday afternoon with Hymns and Arias belting out from the East Stand.
If you want to put relevant and interesting questions to the club, you can do so via your Supporters’ Trust. Signing up is really easy and you just need to visit www.swanstrust.co.uk and click on the JOIN THE TRUST link.
If you want to know more about what the Supporters’ Trust does on a weekly basis, from representing the fans in both the club and the EFL, to attending board meetings, promoting our schools’ initiative or helping organise charitable nights, then come along and have a chat with us at our Pod on a matchday.
In recent weeks we have had the pleasure of meeting with representatives of the supporters’ trusts from Birmingham City, Blackpool, Arsenal and the FSA. We have been able to share ideas, swap stories over a coffee and learn from each other over how to progress in the modern landscape.
None of those we met get to have discussions with their club’s hierarchy the way that your Supporters’ Trust does and they are all envious of our levels of engagement.
Back on the field, hopefully a fit Joe Allen will help reverse a trend of former Swans scoring against us and inspire us to victory against his old team, the Potters, tonight.
If only this game was being played on a Saturday.
Swansea City AFC Foundation is excited to announce the launch of All Cwtched Up, a free weekly warm hub based at the Swansea.com Stadium throughout March.
Running alongside our well attended Cwtch coffee mornings, All Cwtched Up offers a safe and warm space where a welcome awaits.
Located in the Cwtch at the Swansea.com Stadium, events will take place twice weekly, launching on February 28 and March 1 and then running every Tuesday and Wednesday until the end of March.
Tuesday sessions run from 12 to 2pm following on from the conclusion of Cwtch Coffee mornings, with the lunchtime session providing soup and a roll.
Wednesday sessions run from 2 to 4pm, with the chance to grab an afternoon cuppa and take part in a number of different weekly activities.
Sessions are free and inclusive to everyone in a fully accessible space, with free WiFi, phone charging facilities and warm packs available.
To register your interest in All Cwtched Up.
As Swansea City get set to host Stoke City at the Swansea.com Stadium, we take a closer look at the Potters.
What’s their story?
Stoke City is the oldest professional Football League club, having initially been founded in 1863 as Stoke Ramblers. The team was originally mainly made up of local railway workers.
They became Stoke Football Club in 1878 and before becoming Stoke City in 1920.
The club's first, and to date only, major trophy was won in 1972, when Stoke beat Chelsea to win the League Cup.
The Potters have won the Football League Trophy on two occasions, first in 1992 and most recently in 2000.
After having a successful run under Tony Pulis that led the Potters to the Premier League and the FA Cup Final, they are now in a fifth season back in the Championship following relegation in 2018.
Who's the gaffer?
Alex Neil. A former midfielder, Neil was appointed Stoke boss last August following the departure of Michael O’Neill from the bet365 Stadium.
Neil started his managerial career at Scottish side Hamilton Academical in 2013, having skippered them when former Swans assistant Billy Reid held the managerial reins.
He went on to be appointed as player-manager on an interim basis and led the club to promotion back to the Scottish Premier League in his first full season in charge.
Neil took charge of Norwich City in January 2015 and enjoyed a phenomenal first few months in charge, leading the Canaries to promotion to the top-flight with a play-off final victory over Middlesbrough.
However, their time in the top-flight lasted less than 12 months as they suffered relegation the following season.
He left Carrow Road and was appointed as Preston manager in July 2017 and had the Lilywhites challenging for a play-off spot for the majority of his time at Deepdale.
He departed the Lancashire club in 2021, and a year later took the reins at Sunderland to guide the Black Cats back to the Championship via the play-offs.
Who's the captain?
Lewis Baker is currently wearing the captain’s armband for the Potters after being handed the responsibility ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Midfielder Baker joined from Chelsea in January 2022 on a free transfer after an incredible 17-year association with the Blues.
Baker had been on many loan spells during his time at Chelsea at English, Dutch, German and Turkish clubs.
An England youth international, Baker was also an FA Youth Cup winner with Chelsea in 2012.
In 2016, Baker was part of the England squad for the Toulon Tournament and scored the opening goal in the 2–1 victory over France in the final.
His tally of four goals throughout the competition also earned him the Golden Boot award.
How's their form?
Like a number of teams in a congested mid-table, a lack of consistency has been a hindrance to the Potters.
They have won three league games since the World Cup break, with the most recent of those a comprehensive 3-0 success against struggling Huddersfield.
Of their 10 league wins this season, five of them have come on their travels.
The veteran Manchester-born centre-half has started seven out of eight games for the Potters in 2023, scoring in the recent 3-0 win against Huddersfield Town.
Jagielka started off his career by making his way through the youth ranks of Sheffield United, making his first-team debut in 2000 against Swindon.
After a successful seven years at Bramall Lane, including a promotion to the Premier League, he departed for Everton in 2007.
He was an outstanding servant for the Toffees and made 322 league appearances, scoring 14 goals, over 12 years.
In 2019, he returned to Sheffield United, and has since had spells with Derby County and now Stoke.
Jagielka also won 40 caps for England between 2008 and 2016.
Jacob Brown was Stoke's top scorer last season with 14 goals for the Potters, and he has got six more to his name this season.
The forward started his career in the youth ranks at Sheffield Wednesday before moving on to Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
Following a loan spell at Chesterfield he broke into the first team at Oakwell and a move to the Potters materialised in September 2020.
He has since scored 27 goals in 128 appearances.
Tyrese Campbell, the son of former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell, has contributed five goals and two assists this season for the Potters.
The young left-footed forward started his footballing career at Man City academy and progressed through the youth teams before signing for Stoke City in 2018.
He made his debut against Leicester City in the Premier League in February 2018 and then had a productive loan spell under former Swansea defender Sam Ricketts at Shrewsbury the following year.
Since that stint he has been a first-team regular for the majority of the last three seasons and has 24 league goals in 110 appearances.
Anniversaries are an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on occasions that mean something to us.
They also allow us to mark the time that has passed after a loss, and give us a chance to remember someone who is no longer with us.
Last Saturday was the 25th anniversary of the death of the great Robbie James. Two-and-a-half decades have passed since we lost a great man and a former player who made one of the most significant contributions to Swansea City.
For those of us who knew him, the date will always be important. And for those who didn’t, his name must always be synonymous with our club. He was a legend. No apologies for choosing that over-used word, but it really is the only one to choose.
Strong and combative on the pitch, he was one of the most skilful and versatile players to don a Swans shirt.
Gorseinon-born Robbie made 592 appearances for the club and is second in the all-time goal-scorers list, behind Ivor Allchurch no less.
He died, aged just 40, doing what he loved - playing football. At the time he was player-manager of Llanelli and he collapsed while playing for them against Porthcawl.
During his career Robbie had two spells here, the first was between 1973-1983 and following the Swans relegation out of the top flight, he made a £160,000 move to play for this evening’s visitors, Stoke City, who were still in the First Division.
He made 48 league appearances during his year with the Potters, contributing six goals. He was transferred to another top flight club in 1984, Queens Park Rangers.
He returned home to the Vetch Field in 1988 to captain the Swans and lead his side to promotion to the Third Division.
Everyone who saw him play had something positive to say about him. He was part of the side responsible for the club’s promotion to the First Division in 1981 and one of the five players who played for the club in all four divisions during that time.
One of the other members of that elite group and another club legend, Alan Curtis, said this about his friend: “Robbie epitomised everything the club was about, and he was a real Swansea Jack.
“I have always said he was the best player I ever played with.
“He was more than just a midfielder, and he was so, so strong. His strength was his strength, if you like.
“He was not really quick, but he would move in such a way that he could bump people off him and carry the ball.
“He had a hammer of a right foot, he could smash the ball in from 25 yards with little problem.
“He could play in a number of positions, he played up front for us, he played out wide, he played centre-half and full-back.
“He was actually a decent goalkeeper too, in training. If we would have needed him there, he would have been fine.”
Robbie James. Forever in our hearts.
Dydy Joe Allen ddim yn cael ei werthfawrogi'n llawn yn y byd pêl-droed oherwydd iddo symud i Stoke o Lerpwl. Dyna oedd honiad Owain Tudur Jones, un arall o gyn-chwaraewyr canol cae'r Elyrch, ar y podlediad Y Coridor Ansicrwydd yn dilyn ymddeoliad rhyngwladol y chwaraewr canol cae yn ddiweddar.
Daeth cyhoeddiad y Cymro Cymraeg o Sir Benfro ar ôl iddo ennill 74 o gapiau dros ei wlad, ac ymddangosiadau dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf yng Nghwpan y Byd 2022 a dwy Ewros, yn 2016 a 2021. Yn 32 oed, does dim amheuaeth y byddai ei oedran wedi ei alluogi i barhau i chwarae am rai blynyddoedd eto, ond dyw 'Pirlo Penfro' ddim wedi cael blynyddoedd gorau ei yrfa o ran anafiadau. Yn Qatar, bu'n rhaid iddo fe fethu'r gêm agoriadol yn erbyn yr Unol Daleithiau, ond cafodd e gryn ganmoliaeth gan Rob Page a Russell Martin am frwydro i fod yn holliach erbyn yr ail gêm yn erbyn Iran ac yna i ddechrau'r gêm yn erbyn Lloegr, sef ei ymddangosiad olaf yn y crys coch.
Does dim amheuaeth ei fod e'n un o'r chwaraewyr mwyaf dylanwadol yn ystod Oes Aur Cymru ac fel aelod o'r drindod gyda Gareth Bale ac Aaron Ramsey.
Chwaraeodd e'n gyson dros y blynyddoedd i Lerpwl, gan gynnwys 26 o gemau yn 2013-14 wrth i'w dîm golli allan ar dlws yr Uwch Gynghrair o drwch blewyn. Roedd e'n allweddol yn 2016 wrth i'r cochion gyrraedd rownd derfynol Cwpan y Gynghrair, gan sgorio'r gic fuddugol o'r smotyn i gyrraedd y ffeinal yn erbyn neb llai na Stoke. Cyn diwedd tymor 2015-16, chwaraeodd Allen yn rownd derfynol Cynghrair Europa yn erbyn Sevilla cyn cyhoeddi'i ddymuniad i adael, gan egluro'n ddiweddarach ei fod e'n awyddus i chwarae pêl-droed yn fwy rheolaidd - rhywbeth oedd heb ddigwydd ers i Jurgen Klopp gael ei benodi i olynu Rogers.
£2m yn unig ddaeth oddi ar ei werth yn y pedair blynedd dreuliodd e yn Anfield, oedd yn brawf o'r hyn oedd ganddo i'w gynnig ar y lefel uchaf o hyd. Cafodd ei enwi hefyd ymhlith 50 chwaraewr gorau UEFA yn dilyn haf euraid Cymru yn Ffrainc. Ond cafodd Stoke flynyddoedd llwm yn yr Uwch Gynghrair, gan ostwng yn y pen draw yn 2018, ac fe arhosodd y Cymro'n ffyddlon iddyn nhw gan lofnodi cytundeb pedair blynedd newydd.
Chwaraeodd Allen 221 o weithiau i'r Potters, gan sgorio ugain gôl. Diolchodd y clwb iddo am ei "gyfraniad digamsyniol" wrth i Michael O'Neill gyfeirio at barch mawr pawb yn y clwb tuag ato a'i broffesiynoldeb. Efallai nad oedd e'n un oedd yn mynd i serennu ym mhob gêm ond fel roedd Owain Tudur Jones a Malcolm Allen yn sôn yn y podlediad, yn anad dim mae e'n ddibynadwy ac yn gadarn.
Dyna'r union rinweddau fydd eu hangen i helpu Abertawe i godi o'r deuddegfed safle i fod yn brwydro i gyrraedd y gemau ail gyfle ar ddiwedd y tymor.
Mae yna ddywediad yn y byd pêl-droed nad oes neb eisiau mynd i Stoke ganol wythnos lawiog. Ond daeth Abertawe o ganolbarth Lloegr ar ddiwedd y gêm gyfatebol ym mis Awst gyda phwynt. Mae Stoke yng ngwaelodion y tabl ar hyn o bryd, ond dim ond pum pwynt sy'n eu gwahanu nhw a'r Elyrch. Mae digon o bêl-droed i ddod, a digon o amser i Joe Allen gyfrannu eto i'r crys gwyn.
MATTY SORINOLA SCORED ONE GOAL AND PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN THE OTHER AS SWANSEA CITY RETURNED TO WINNING WAYS AGAINST 10-MAN BLACKPOOL AT THE SWANSEA.COM STADIUM.
Swansea City: Andy Fisher; Nathan Wood, Ben Cabango, Harry Darling (Joel Latibeaudiere 78); Matty Sorinola (Liam Cullen 85), Jay Fulton (Joe Allen 63), Matt Grimes (captain), Ryan Manning; Ollie Cooper (Olivier Ntcham 63), Luke Cundle (Morgan Whittaker 78), Joel Piroe.
Unused Substitutes: Lewis Webb, Liam Walsh.
Blackpool: Chris Maxwell (captain), Callum Connolly, James Husband (Jordan Gabriel 87), Jerry Yates, Josh Bowler (Ian Poveda 64), Kenny Dougall, Sonny Carey, CJ Hamilton (Morgan Rogers 64), Andy Lyons (Dom Thompson 87), Charlie Patino, Jordan Thorniley (Curtis Nelson 87).
Unused Substitutes: Daniel Grimshaw, Rob Apter.
SWANSEA CITY SUFFERED LATE HEARTBREAK AS DANIEL AYALA HEADED IN A 90TH MINUTE WINNER FOR BLACKBURN ROVERS AT EWOOD PARK.
Blackburn Rovers: Aynsley Pears, Harry Pickering, Daniel Ayala, Dominic Hyam, Sam Gallagher (Bradley Dack 73) (Sammie Szmodics 86’), Tyrhys Dolan, Sorba Thomas, Hayden Carter, John Buckley, Ben Brereton Diaz (Ryan Hedges 79), Lewis Travis (captain).
Unused substitutes: Joe Hilton, Tyler Morton, Callum Brittain, Ash Phillips.
Swansea City: Andy Fisher; Nathan Wood, Harry Darling (Morgan Whittaker 90), Ben Cabango; Joel Latibeaudiere, Jay Fulton (Matty Sorinola 90), Joe Allen (Liam Cullen 72), Matt Grimes (captain), Ryan Manning; Luke Cundle (Ollie Cooper 60’); Joel Piroe.
Unused substitutes: Andreas Sondergaard, Olivier Ntcham, Liam Walsh.
“Yes, but can he do it on a cold, rainy Tuesday night in Stoke?”
The above question has been posed regarding a number of talented players from around the world who are yet to sample the delights of an evening trip to our visitors’ home in Staffordshire.
It’s generally aired when an overseas star produces a piece of extravagant footballing magic in one of the more temperate footballing countries around the world, or one of the less physical leagues.
Andy Gray first aimed the query at Lionel Messi over a decade ago when the 2022 World Cup winner was weaving his magic at Barcelona.
It’s unlikely we will ever find out the answer to that question as far as Messi is concerned.
But there’s one South American World Cup winner I can prove could do it in Stoke -on a Monday night at least – the late, great Pele.
I know it’s some weeks since the three-time World Cup passed away, but I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to pay a belated tribute to the great man.
Especially as he did indeed once shine brightly against tonight’s opponents at their famously inhospitable old home ground.
On the evening of Monday, September 22 1969, ‘The King’ was part of a Santos side which played an exhibition match at the then Victoria Ground as part of a 15-day European tour.
Granted, Stoke on a September night may not have been as challenging as a wind and rain-lashed visit during the depths of an English winter.
Santos also apparently warned their hosts that the jewel in their crown would be withdrawn if he was excessively “roughed up” by Stoke’s defenders.
However, a visit to the Victoria Ground in the late 1960s would have taken Pele and his fellow Samba stars out of their footballing comfort zone.
Especially when you consider the legendary number 10 had quite literally been kicked out of the 1966 World Cup on English soil when he was the victim of a series of x-rated tackles.
However, there was no stopping Pele on this occasion as the great Brazilian scored twice in a 3-2 victory.
The second goal saw him produce a moment of magic releasing him from the attention of four defenders before firing past Stoke’s own international legend – Gordon Banks.
Indeed, Pele returned to Stoke in 2008 when he helped unveil a statue of Banks at the Britannia Stadium.
The debate over who is the greatest player of all-time will indeed rage for all-time.
How can you judge a player who plied his trade in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s against more recent or current exponents of ‘the beautiful game’ – a phrase coined by Pele himself.
Huge differences in pitches, balls, boots, training methods, nutrition and opposition, let alone players operating in different positions, mean it is impossible to accurately match up players from completely different eras.
For what it’s worth, I personally think Pele is the greatest player ever to kick a ball. However, I’ll never be able to prove it.
What I can say with a certain amount of confidence is the vast majority of people would consider him the greatest player of his day – something neither Messi nor his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo could claim with huge confidence.
Even after Messi’s World Cup success, the football world remains split over whether he or his Portuguese rival is the better contemporary player, let alone the best ever.
Whoever you think is the greatest, one thing that cannot be denied is that Pele was special.
The fact that always astounds me is that he is equally famous for some of the goals he failed to score as the 1,000-plus strikes which did find their way into the net.
There were three famous off-target moments in the 1970 World Cup finals alone!
The dummy, which left Uruguay’s goalkeeper befuddled before Pele eventually shot narrowly wide.
The shot from halfway, which eluded the hapless Czechoslovakian goalkeeper and flew just the wrong side of a post.
The bullet downward header which the aforementioned Banks managed to unforgettably palm upwards and over the crossbar to safety.
Many players are remembered for their misses – but not in a good way, unlike Pele.
Some Swans fans will recall poor old Shefqi Kuqi.
Now the Finnish international was a decent player who enjoyed a successful club career with the likes of the Swans, Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town. He also earned 62 caps for his country.
But in this part of the world he will always be remembered for a glaring miss against Barnsley back in 2010.
Early in the match Kuqi found himself with an open goal at his mercy after visiting keeper Luke Steel missed his kick.
With the Jack Army already preparing to celebrate, the former Premier League striker somehow managed to skew the bouncing ball wide of the gaping goal.
However, it’s worth remember Kuqi went on to score with a diving header which helped the Swans earn three points and stay in play-off contention.
Another Swans player who always springs to mind when I think of Pele is the great Giorgio Chinaglia, who formed a deadly partnership with him during their days at New York Cosmos.
In fact, Chinaglia, who was reported to have an ego as big as his footballing talent, would probably have disputed who in fact was ‘The King’ of New York during those 1970s days in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Even though Cosmos boasted the likes of World Cup-winning Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer, as well as Pele, it was Chinaglia who believed himself to be the star of the team.
And to be fair, the man who started his career with the Swans, could back up that boast will football’s most valuable commodity – goals!
The former Lazio striker scored in each of the four Soccer Bowls the Cosmos won. For five successive seasons he was top scorer in the star-studded NASL, eventually amassing 193 goals in 213 games. He also claimed 83 assists.
During his two years at the Vetch, there were few signs that Chinaglia would go on to score close to a goal-a-game at Lazio, where he helped deliver the club its first Serie A title, and earn 14 Italian caps before going on to take New York by storm.
When asked his opinion about young apprentice Chinaglia, the then Swansea Town manager Trevor Morris is reported to have said: “Don’t talk to me about Chinaglia. The boy’s got a lot of talent but he won’t knuckle down.”
Morris’ opinion was borne out by the fact that between October 1964 and March 1966, Chinaglia made just six first-team appearances for the Swans, scoring one goal.
With Chinaglia failing to make the grade in Swansea, the family decided to move back to his father’s native Italy where compulsory National Service helped instil some discipline into the young Italian.
The rest, as they say, is history.
So, despite his less than auspicious start with the Swans, Chinaglia went on to rival the New York fame of the man who won three World Cups and proved he could indeed do it on a Monday night in Stoke.
C’MON YOU SWANS!
IT HAS BEEN A HECTIC FEW DAYS FOR ANDREAS SØNDERGAARD AFTER THE GOALKEEPER JOINED SWANSEA CITY JUST IN TIME TO BE ON THE BENCH AGAINST BLACKBURN AT THE WEEKEND.
HERE, THE DANISH YOUTH INTERNATIONAL TALKS ABOUT HIS FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF HIS NEW CLUB AND CITY, REVEALS THE FORMER SWANS WHO PLAYED A PART IN HIS MOVE, AND OUTLINES HIS HOPES AFTER PUTTING PEN TO PAPER ON A DEAL THROUGH TO THE END OF THE SEASON.
Andreas, welcome to Swansea City. It was a bit of a hectic start to your time here, travelling to Blackburn on the day you signed. How have the last few days been?
Yeah, as you just mentioned it has been a crazy few days. There have been a lot of things going on, but I signed on Friday and then travelled on the same day with the squad for the game on Saturday.
I feel like I almost didn’t really realise the situation and what was going on, just because it was really, really busy.
I have really enjoyed it so far.
It’s a unique style of play here, with particular demands and requirements for a goalkeeper, how are you finding adapting to that?
I had a really good conversation with the gaffer, and also with Dean Thornton the goalkeeping coach, and they were very clear when it came to how they want the team to play.
They talked about how they want to control games with the ball, and to be dominant. I was really happy to see that because it is a great way of playing.
I think it is a way of playing that suits me very well, I like to play out and be involved in the build up.
It looks really good and I have enjoyed working this way so far.
You’ve moved into your apartment already, how have you settled into the city?
It has been great, it is an absolutely amazing city, and the people are so friendly here as well.
I mean everyone here has just looked after me and tried to make feel welcome and at home. That has been a big help, so it has been a really enjoyable first few days.
I cannot wait to crack on and work hard to try and get opportunities.
You left Wolves at the end of the January window. Was it difficult to leave there, but how pleasing is it to get straight back in the game?
I was at Wolves for five years and I really enjoyed my time there. I felt like I grew as a player but also, most importantly, as a person.
I left Denmark at a really young age, I was only 16, and moving to a new country is always going to be difficult at the start.
But I moved in with a really good family there, and that helped me to settle quite quick.
I just enjoyed my time there and I am really grateful to Wolves for the opportunity they gave me, but now I was ready to move on and I am excited by this new chapter in my career.
You worked with former Swans goalkeeping coach, Tony Roberts, at Wolves and would have known Luke Cundle also. Did you speak to them about Swansea before you joined?
I did not speak to them before I joined, but Tony did play a part in me coming here and I am grateful that he put a good word in for me.
Luke is someone I knew before I got here, but the first conversations I had with him, he only had good things to say about the club and the people.
From the first day I walked into the building I have felt really good, everyone is so friendly – as I mentioned before – and it is just like a big family. It is great to be a part of it.
You started your career at Odense and you’re a Danish youth international. Can you talk us through that period of your career and who your biggest influences were as you developed?
I joined Odense when I was around 10-years-old. Up to then it had obviously been pretty much amateur football I had been playing.
Then when I went to Odense it was a different challenge going into an elite, professional environment.
It was completely different, but you understand quickly that you have to perform every time you train and every time you play if you want to be in the team, otherwise you will be dropped.
It was a big transformation for me, and you realise you have to sacrifice things if you want to do well. I enjoyed my time there for that reason, but the chance to go to Wolves was a no-brainer for me.
You have previously had loan spells at Hereford and Randers in Denmark. How much did you take from those experiences?
I took a lot from those two experiences. I feel like I matured a lot when I was back in Denmark with Randers.
Going into a first-team environment at a young age teaches you a lot of good things. I feel like competing at a high level is always beneficial for young players and I feel like I got experience I needed, even if I did not play as much as I would have liked.
Hereford was different again, that was men’s football and it was really physical and competitive.
There’s been quite a few Danish goalkeepers who have been hugely successful in Britain. Who would you say are your goalkeeping idols?
For me it is Kasper Schmeichel, who has had an amazing career and is still doing really, really well now.
He went from lower down the leagues and worked his way up, and has had some great successes doing that.
He is an inspiration for a young goalkeeper like me who wants to do well and have a good career.
Your contract here is until the end of the season, it’s relatively short-term but are you hoping to take the opportunity to work hard and impress?
I am really grateful to get this opportunity and join a big club here. It is down to me now to do whatever I can, to put it all in to every training session.
If I give it everything I have got, hopefully I can push the other two keepers as well, and create a really strong environment.
All I can do is take it day by day and give it all I have got. If I do that, I believe opportunities will come.
OUR LATEST INSTALMENT OF OUR 'CULT HEROES' FEATURE SEES US REVISIT A PIECE FROM EARLIER THIS SEASON TO MARK THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PASSING OF ONE OF SWANSEA CITY'S GREATEST PLAYERS: ROBBIE JAMES.
The final game of a dismal 1972-73 season against Charlton Athletic at the Vetch Field was unremarkable in itself, but it would see the league debut of a young boy who would go on to become a Swansea City legend. That boy was Robbie James.
Robbie was born in Gorseinon, but spent his formative years in the Mayhill area of the city. After finishing school he joined the ground staff at the Vetch Field, where he graduated through the ranks of the Welsh League and Football Combination sides, to find himself knocking at the door of the first-team squad.
Even at his tender age Robbie was extremely strong in the tackle, and had a powerful shot that would see him score many spectacular long-range goals in the future.
His impressive performances on the pitch saw him join Arsenal in November 1974 on an initial month-long loan, but this lasted only twenty-four hours, before returning to Swansea due to homesickness.
Consistency on the pitch, allied with acceleration over the vital first 10 yards, and a rocket of a shot saw Robbie become the Football League's youngest player to reach 100, 200 and 300 league appearances as he established himself at a remarkably young age.
In fact, after finishing his professional career, Robbie would end up with an incredible 782 Football League appearances and 137 goals, leaving him seventh in the all-time Football League appearances list.
The basement divisions of league football in the UK in the early seventies could be brutal, but it turned the young Robbie into a man.
Under the guidance of Harry Griffiths the team began to take shape after some years of struggle, but it was when John Toshack took over in February 1978 that the impossible began to become a reality.
Two consecutive promotions followed, seeing the club reach the Second Division (Championship) for the first time in 14 long years.
Robbie's performances at club level saw him earn Wales honours at both youth and under- 21 levels, before in October 1978 he was awarded the first of his 47 full Welsh International caps when playing against Malta.
The rise of the club under Toshack reached its peak with promotion from the Second Division to the First after an historic season that saw Robbie influential in midfield, alongside other local players in Jeremy Charles, Alan Curtis and Wyndham Evans to name but a few.
The inaugural season at English football's top level was successful for the club, who finished sixth, while Robbie himself finished the season as top goalscorer, and won the player of the year award.
Unfortunately financial realities at the club reared their ugly head in the second season, and after relegation Robbie - along with a host of other top players - was allowed to leave the Swans at a knockdown price, as the club looked to try and stabilise itself.
Stoke City were the beneficiaries of his signature in a deal worth £160,000, but after just a season in Staffordshire he was on the move again; this time to London and Queens Park Rangers.
It was during his time in London that Robbie played in the 1986 Milk Cup final at Wembley, playing against Oxford United, who had former Swan and close friend Charles in their line up.
After two seasons in London, Robbie was once more on the move, this time to Leicester City, before finally returning to the Vetch Field in 1988 in a £35,000 transfer deal.
It all began well for both club and player with promotion gained in his first season, but a falling out with the then chairman Doug Sharpe saw the player join Bradford City, before returning to Wales two seasons later joining Cardiff City.
Robbie retired from professional football in 1993, though he continued playing non-league football for Merthyr, Llanelli and Weston-Super-Mare before returning to Llanelli as player manager in 1997.
It was during this time at the club that tragedy struck when, during a game against Porthcawl Town, Robbie collapsed on the pitch, and died at the tragically early age of just 40.
A bust of one of the club’s most loyal and loved players was unveiled at the new Liberty Stadium, and it adorns the Robbie James Wall of Fame.
It was a fitting tribute and testament to a player whose performances on the pitch saw him win player of the year at both Bradford City and Cardiff City to go alongside the ones won at his hometown club.
Swansea City Under-21s' coach Anthony Wright was full of pride for his side and felt their recent performance in their 2-2 draw with Cardiff City had been in the best traditions of the club they represent.
The Swans had led the Professional Development League fixture thanks to Liam Walsh’s header, but second-half goals from Morgan Wigley and Gavin Whyte gave the visitors the lead.
But substitute Josh Thomas made no mistake when handed the chance to level 10 minutes from time as the spoils were shared.
Wright was extremely proud of the dominant display the under-21s put in at Landore, and believes there were plenty of positives to be taken going forward.
“I’m super proud of the players. I think we showed exactly what we’re about as a club, we dominated the game," said Wright.
“Individually and collectively, I thought the performance from start to finish was terrific. It’s probably our best performance in our last 18 months of this journey.
“I really enjoyed the display, and I’m immensely proud of the way they applied themselves.
“The players were disappointed not to have won. I know their coach [Darren Purse] and he said that we were terrific. For us, it’s a bit of a blow we haven’t come away with a convincing win .
“In fairness to their young keeper, he’s done really well for them with the chances we created. We missed a couple, and then a couple of ricochets didn’t really fall our way."
Meanwhile, the trio of Ben Lloyd, Thomas and Ruben Davies returned to the matchday squad after being sidelined with injury and made sure to have an impact on their return.
“Josh and Ben had 30 minutes and without a doubt made an impact. Ruben did really well for 60 minutes for his first game back in three months," Wright added.
“Kian Jenkins fitted in as if he’d never been away, also. But again, we’re really proud as it was a night where a couple of players played in a different position.
“We changed shape and this is the first test that we’ve had where we’ve had questions asked and dealt with everything.
“You see it so many times in every level of football. We were so dominant, even I as coach had a feeling that they are going to nick a goal and that’s what happened.
“That’s something we’ll look at; we know we can do better for the goal, and we’ll put that into place over the next couple of days leading into the next game.
“The positive is that we were so dominant in the game, and as a young group, they could have just thrown the towel in, but they didn't, and they stuck to their principles and went again.
“Not only did we score to equalise, but we had more chances to win the game from that point. Overall, I’m absolutely over the moon for the players.”
TEN-MAN SWANSEA CITY UNDER-18S SUFFERED DEFEAT AS THREE FIRST-HALF GOALS FROM MILLWALL ENSURED THEY EXTENDED THEIR LEAD AT THE TOP OF THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE TABLE.
The Lions opened the scoring with seconds of the kick-off, Jack Howland heading home, and two further two goals followed in quick succession as Frankie Baker and Joshua Stephenson also found the net.
The Swans battled gamely after the break, but there was to be no way back into the contest for the visitors.
There had been two changes from the win over Reading as 15-year-old Yori Griffith was handed a start with Kit Margetson in between the sticks.
The Swans had faced the Lions a little over two weeks ago when they played out a draw, but they trailed early here as they latched onto a loose ball and a lofted forward pass was headed home by Howland.
It was a nightmare start but the Swans had the next chance as Zane Myers had a shot blocked at the end of a swift counter-attack.
Skipper Josh Carey then saw his free-kick parried away by the Millwall keeper, before Myers could not quite reach a ball across the six-yard box.
The Swans kept plugging for an equaliser and another decent phase of passing started by Myers looked promising for the visitors. Myers’ inviting cross into the area found Goeff Bony’s head, but the Ivorian striker couldn't direct it on target.
Out of the blue, the Lions pounced for their second against the run of play; Baker raced into the box beating his marker to drill home from close range.
Just moments later, and with barely half an hour on the clock, Millwall were celebrating a third.
Howland stormed down the left to pick out Stephenson after the Swans lost possession in midfield, and he made no mistake in the six-yard box to slot it past Margetson.
The Swans needed a fast start to the second half, and Aimar Govea got his head to a Iwan Morgan delivery, but his header was parried away by George Evans.
Morgan and Griffith then combined on the right to set up Richard Faakye, but he saw his shot blocked by Evans at the near post.
Faakye got involved once again as he saw his low effort slide just wide, before Dan Watts’ volley was blocked on the edge of the area.
And there was more frustrated from Swans when Morgan saw red 10 minutes from time after an altercation.
Next up for the Swans is a home fixture with Cardiff City at Landore Training Ground on Saturday, February 25. (11am kick-off).
Millwall Under-18s: Goerge Evans, Kyron Horsely-Mckay (Abdulchai Abduleez 45'), Joshua Stephenson, Alfie Massey, Ernie Cheeseman (captain), Adebapo Olugbodi, Oliver Whitby, Frankie Baker, Kawali Heywood, Jack Howland.
Unused subs: Elidon O’Doyle, Dean Forbes.
Swansea City Under-18s: Kit Margetson, Sam Parker (David Roberts 38’), Arthur Parker (Thomas Woodward 87'), Richard Faakye, Jada Mawongo, Josh Carey (captain), Aimar Govea (Dan Watts 60'), Yori Griffith (Cam Llewellyn 87'), Geoff Bony, Iwan Morgan, Zane Myers.
Unused subs: Ewan Griffiths.
Swansea City Ladies head coach Ceri Phillips says his side must embrace the challenge ahead of them as they prepare for the Genero Adran Premier Championship Phase.
The New Saints took the fourth Championship Phase spot in dramatic fashion on the final day with Cardiff Met, Swansea City Ladies and Cardiff City making up the rest of the group who will contest the league title over the final stage of the campaign.
The Bluebirds carry a seven point lead over the Swans heading into the second phase which will begin at the end of February.
It means Swansea's hopes of defending their title are out of their hands and will require other results to go their way.
But, with all the teams set to play each other home and away before a winner is crowned, there is plenty of time and opportunities to come.
“We’re ready and raring to go,” Phillips said.
“It’s a few weeks until our first game comes along so there’s plenty of time to get some preparation in and throw everything we’ve got at it.
“We’re going to take it game by game. They will be tough matches against all three teams, but if we can’t get excited about playing against top opposition then we’re in the wrong place.
“I know it’s a cliché but we have six cup finals now. We’re all looking forward to it and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
The Ladies have made additions to their squad in the past few weeks with the arrivals of Lailah Muscat and Megan Saunders have helped strengthen an already highly-competitive squad, while last season’s top scorer Chloe Chivers is closing in on a return following an ACL injury.
“Across the season, we’ve picked up some injuries, but we have a good squad with some new players and some returning players, which helps us” Phillips added.
“If we can get some minutes into them over the next few weeks, we’ll be a lot healthier in terms of squad selection.
“We’re almost at a full compliment going into phase two. It gives us a bit of a headache which is what we want as a staff.”
Welcome back to the Swansea.com Stadium, Junior Jacks!
It’s great having so many home matches in one month, we really enjoy seeing you all every time the Swans play and we’re looking forward to another matchday at the stadium!
Thank you to everyone who joined us at the last game. We had a great time meeting Mr Hearty and learning all about CPR.
It’s a quieter game today, but there are still plenty of activities going on. RolyPoly Entertainments are here and our friends from the Foundation will be running activities in the concourses.
Also – and this is very exciting – on Friday, Cybil and I will be heading to the club shop if you want to come and meet us. We’ll be bringing Joel Piroe, Morgan Whittaker, Luke Cundle and Liam Cullen with us.
See you next Monday and have a brilliant half-term!
Cyril and Cybil
P.S. Our prediction is 1-0 to the Swans and Joe Allen will score the goal!
DYLAN ~ AGED 12
LUKE ~ AGED 10
RUDI ~ AGED 6
TEDDY ~ AGED 8
An audio commentary service is available for blind and partially sighted fans – provided by Radio City, the Swansea University Health Board Hospital Radio Service.
Radio City has a long association with the football club dating back to the days when the club was known as Swansea Town.
Since moving to the Swansea.com Stadium, the broadcaster has provided a live descriptive commentary service for free at all Swansea home matches, meaning that blind and partially-sighted supporters in both the home and away ends can follow the action.
In order to book a headset for the match, supporters can contact the accessibility team in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or contacting the ticket office from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm by calling 01792 616629 and selecting option one.
Supporters can also book headsets in person in advance at the ticket office, or on the day by speaking to a Disability Liaison Steward on the day.
To learn more about Radio City, visit www.radiocity1389am.co.uk. To learn more about accessible facilities at the stadium, please click here.
The inclusion room at the Swansea.com Stadium is open every matchday for supporters who may require a quiet space during games.
Supporters will be able to attend live matches at the Swansea.com Stadium with the comfort of knowing there is a designated area should they need it. The room is available to any supporter that may require a quiet space.
The space will be monitored by a designated disability liaison steward and provides a safe space with a disabled toilet, a projector to watch the live game, and dignity packs for those who need it.
While some supporters who require a time away from the crowds may prefer to use this room as a quiet space, it will also be possible to watch the match live on a screen projected onto the wall meaning supporters who require the space for any reason don’t have to miss a moment of the match action.
The room is located in the West Stand and, while supporters who feel they may benefit from the use of the space will be recommended to sit in that stand, it will be accessible for anyone in any part of the stadium.
Any supporter who feels overwhelmed by the matchday environment for any reason can gain access to the room by making themselves known to a steward or disability liaison steward.
Chief Executive - Julian Winter
Honorary Club President - Alan Curtis
Jason Levien, Julian Winter, Jake Silverstein, Sam Porter, Huw Jenkins, Martin Morgan, Sian Davies (supporter director), Romie Chaudhari, Bobby Hernreich, Gareth Davies.
Director of Business and Legal Affairs: Sam Porter
Associate Directors: Ceri Stone
Head Coach – Russell Martin
Assistant Head Coach - Matt Gill
Goalkeeping Coach – Dean Thornton
Head of Physical Performance – Matt Willmott
First Team Performance Analyst - Ben Parker
Set Piece Coach - Andy Parslow
First Team Coach - Kris O'Leary
Head of Performance – Tom Barnden
Head of Rehabilitation – Rhys Owen
Head of Medical - Dr Jez McCluskey
Staff: Ailsa Jones, Bethany Chaddock, Matt Murray, Michael Eames, Shaun Baggridge, Connor Lawley.
Senior Management Group
Andrew Davies (Head of Operations, Facilities & Development);
Gareth Davies (CFO);
James Chiffi (Head of Wellbeing & Development);
Josh Marsh (Head of Football Operations).
Club Secretary: Ben Greenwood
Football Operations &
Administration Manager: Rebecca Gigg
Head of Retail: Andrea Morris
Head of Hospitality & Customer Services: Catherine Thomas
Head of Safeguarding: Rebeca Storer
HR Manager: Nicola Butt
Senior Commercial Sponsorship Manager: Lee Merrells
Head of Marketing:
Head of Media & Communications:
Ticket Office Manager: Lewis Bullen
Operations & Events Manager:
Facilities Manager: Gordon David
Grounds Manager: Evan Davies
Disability Access Officer: Catherine Thomas
Swansea City AFC Foundation Manager: Paul France
Club Ambassador: Lee Trundle
Contributors: Ben Donovan, Andrew Gwilym, Sophie Davis, Hayley Ford, Tomos Griffiths, Cerith White, Rhys Kemish, Fraser Dickson, Rachael Tucker, Dom Hynes, Julie Kissick, Gwyn Rees, Owen Morgan.
Designers: Callum Rothwell,
Jordan Morcom, Lewis Ward
Photography: Athena Picture Agency,
Natalie John-Davis, Alamy
Head Coach Russell Martin
1 Andy Fisher
3 Ryan Manning
4 Jay Fulton
5 Ben Cabango
6 Harry Darling
7 Joe Allen
8 Matt Grimes ©
10 Olivier Ntcham
12 Jamie Paterson
13 Steven Benda
17 Joël Piroe
18 Luke Cundle
19 Morgan Whittaker
20 Liam Cullen
22 Joel Latibeaudiere
23 Nathan Wood
26 Kyle Naughton
27 Andreas Søndergaard
28 Liam Walsh
29 Matty Sorinola
31 Ollie Cooper
33 Wasiri Williams
35 Lincoln Mcfayden
36 Ben Lloyd
45 Cameron Congreve
47 Azeem Abdulai
48 Joel Cotterill
Manager Alex Neil
1 Matija Sarkic
3 Morgan Fox
5 Axel Tuanzebe
6 Phil Jagielka
7 Sam Clucas
8 Lewis Baker (c)
9 Jacob Brown
10 Tyrese Campbell
11 Dwight Gayle
13 Jack Bonham
14 Josh Tymon
15 Jordan Thompson
16 Ben Wilmot
17 Ki-Jana Hoever
18 Will Smallbone
20 Dujon Sterling
22 Ben Pearson
23 Bersant Celina
25 Nick Powell
28 Josh Laurent
32 Conny Taylor
34 Frank Fielding
Referee - Andy Woolmer
Assistant Referee 1 - Adam Crysell
Assistant Referee 2 - Mark Pottage
Fourth Official - Lee Swabey