Edwards So Close to Premier League Debut for Swans
Saturday, 6th Oct 2018 06:00
No one in the Town camp will be looking forward to today’s game at Swansea more than winger Gwion Edwards, who launched his career there and will be returning to the Liberty Stadium for the first time.
The 25-year-old Welshman never made it into the first team – but he could hardly have come closer after then manager Brendan Rodgers signalled for him to come off the bench for the last few minutes of the home clash with Liverpool in May 2012.
Edwards, signed from Peterborough in the summer, takes up the story: “Brendan came in as manager during my last year with the youth team and he was a top manager.
“At the end of his first season he won promotion to the Premier League and I also signed my first professional contract. It was a very exciting time for everyone but especially the first-year pros, who knew that if they got a first-team chance it would be in the Premier League.
“It was everyone’s dream and I was a bit unlucky because he wanted to put me on as a sub on the very last day of the season for the game against Liverpool, which we won 1-0. As a Manchester United fan I was looking to play a part, however minor it might have been, in a win over Liverpool.
“There wasn’t much time left to play when he gave me the nod and I got myself ready. Brendan had his arm round me, telling me the tactics and what he wanted from me, but the ball never went out of play for ages.
“Swansea were a passing team and liked to keep possession, which didn’t really help me.
“It got to the stage where the fourth official put up the board for two minutes of stoppage time and I was still waiting.
“Finally, the ball did go out about a minute into stoppage time but a ball-boy returned it very quickly and we took the throw-in straight away before the ref could wave me on. I was still standing there when he blew for full-time, so my big chance had gone.
“I still felt it would come round. I signed a three-year deal and things were looking good for me. Brendan told me I was in his plans going forward but circumstances can change very quickly in football, as I soon discovered when Brendan left to become Liverpool’s new manager.”
Former Danish international Michael Laudrup, believed to have been interviewed by Town owner Marcus Evans before Paul Hurst’s appointment in May this year, succeeded Rodgers.
“Laudrup had his own ideas,” Edwards recalled. “He wasn’t one for using the young players, although Ben Davies, who is now at Tottenham, got his chance when Neil Taylor broke his ankle.
“Me? I never really got close again and I realised it was probably time for me to move on. I went to Scotland and had two loan spells with St Johnstone and then had another one at Crawley before signing for them on a permanent basis.
“I was disappointed to leave when I did, although it was my choice. I knew I needed to move on if I was going to play games.
“I might have got my big chance the year I left but I opted to branch out and start again, building my career elsewhere.
“Some of the other young lads decided to sit tight and not many of them are even playing football today.
“It was a big call and I don’t regret doing it. My career has progressed and I’ve worked my way back up the ladder to be playing in the Championship.
“I’m not going back to Swansea thinking I have a point to prove. I have no hard feelings towards anyone at the club and I just put it down to one of those things.
"I’m not the only player to come through the youth team and become a full-time professional but not make the first team.
“I used it as a way of motivating myself to get back to playing at a decent level. I’ve got my shirt from that day, signed by all the Swansea lads. I think they all felt sorry for me. It’s worn but not used.”
Asked how he felt ahead of his first return, he said: “I’m looking forward to it because I really enjoyed my time there. I came through from the youth team and spent quite a few years there, both as a youth player and then as a young pro. It’s a great club that has developed a lot since I left years ago.
“They’ve got the new training ground up and running now and apart from being a great club, they have great staff and great players, although I don’t think there are many from my time still there.
“It was great to be part of Swansea’s journey to the top flight and watch from behind the scenes as they went through the leagues.”
Edwards will be cheered on by several family members and added: “My mum and my two brothers are going to come down from home and a lot of the them are Swansea fans as it’s the local club.
“Several people have told my mum and my brothers that they have got their tickets but they will obviously be in the home end, while my family will be in with the away fans. A few lads I know are coming along so it will be great to see a few faces.”
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