Britton Interview

Friday, 6 June 2003, 0:00
6 mins read

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Leon Britton arrived at the Vetch last December and soon became an instant hit with the fans. His mazy runs and general attitude to the game earned him close on cult status with the Vetch faithful and resulted in him earning accoloades, both monthly and annually from the PFA as well as the Fans Player of the Year award.

“The fans give me the encouragement to perform.” says Leon, “To be out there playing and hearing them singing your name just gives you massive confidence and you go on to play well. I knew that I could do well when I came down here but I could never have imagined how well that it has gone. I would have liked to have grabbed a few goals and I will work on that during the summer. I had been out to Southend before I came to Swansea but they told me that their midfield was the strongest part of their team and I really wanted first team football. Reserve team football is okay but it is nowhere near as competitive and when Brian Flynn came in to take me on loan, and offered me first team football, I jumped at the chance.

“I knew little about the club when I came down here. I knew that Frank Lampard had been down here a few years before but as soon as I arrived you could see that the club had potential. It was disappointing to lose my first six games at the club but then the gaffer brought in players such as Roberto, Lenny and Nuge and the team just got better and better. During the last 20 games, we played close to promotion form and with a settled team which helped no end.”

And what was the Hull game like to play in? “What a brilliant day. We always thought that we could get the result from the game and when we went one up early on I thought that was it. Unfortunately, there were a couple of mistakes and we found ourselves behind. We got fortunate just before half-time with the penalty, it wasn’t one – but in the second half we just got better. Having said that, I wouldn’t want to go through it again mind!”

Leon finished the season with the Swans in Roger Freestone’s testimonial. From then on it was back to West Ham to sort out his future “I never received a phone call from the West Ham staff while I was on loan at Swansea which was disappointing. I did get a call from the reserve team manager the day after Roger’s game asking me to play for the reserves but I didn’t want to do that. The writing was on the wall that I was being frozen out at West Ham – I never made the first team squad in four years at the club. My agent contacted them to see if I could leave on a free transfer.” It was Harry Redknapp that signed Leon on at West Ham, would it have made any difference if he was still there? “Maybe I would have had a better chance as it was Harry who brought me in but you cannot say for sure. Glenn Roeder prefers not to bring young players on too soon. With their relegation from the Premiership, I thought I may have got a chance but with them trying to keep hold of the likes of Cole and Carrick then it was time to move.”

And was there only one place to be? “I had a year on my contract at West Ham which made it different. I didn’t ask my agent to tout me around all the clubs, I wanted to come back to Swansea. He contacted Brian Flynn and as soon as wel talked terms then I was ready to sign. I loved it here last season and I wanted to come back. The gaffer has plans for this club and with him talking to the likes of Roberto, Chris Llewellyn, Lenny and more it’s looking positive.”

Britton’s season looked as if it may be cut short last season when he was injured against Oxford, what was that like for the youngster? “I went for a header and made contact with the other player. When I was in the dressing room I asked how long I would be out for and they feared three months. This was confirmed at the hospital if it was a fractured cheekbone. Fortunately, I had a second opinion and it was not as bad as first thought and I was able to play with the mask. I played against Scunthorpe wearing the mask but afterwards told Brian Flynn that I didn’t feel as if I could give 100% with the mask and did he want me to play in the next game. Richie Evans consulted with West Ham and both clubs agreed that I could play without the mask. It’s not that you shirk away from challenges but it does hamper you to a degree.”

The injury to Leon prompted Swansea fans to fax the clubs with messages of support “Receiving those faxes and well wishes really helped me. I was quite down when I first got injured but the club passed these on and they helped me. I read the internet sites, both and I did try to read the official site but you had to register – I didn’t like that. I read the sites quite regularly.” ( note – Leon genuinely made that remark about the official site!)

Well if he is reading – surely he is reading Big Jack Brother? “Yes I have been, me getting bedtime stories makes me laugh. It is quite a good read really. Who got voted out again last week? Reeco I have a scrapbook from my time at Swansea and the faxes that I received form part of that.”

Swansea fans are noted as being passionate about this club – as a player do you really get the feel for that? “Yes you do. I think at big clubs you get fans from everywhere but although average attendance at the Vetch is only 6,000 it sounds more like 35,000. There is definitely more passion here and the same can be said for Cardiff.”

On the day that it was confirmed Morfa would go ahead, how important does Leon think that is to the future of the club “The stadium will be ready at the end of my contract but I would love to play for the Swans at Morfa. It’s a massive boost for the club. The gaffer and the directors want to take this club forward and if you look at the likes of Hull and Darlington with their new stadium it can only be a good thing. This club should not be at the bottom end of the third divison. WIth the gaffer looking at the right sort of players then why can’t we be pushing for the play-offs or promotion next season?”

And what about a message for the fans who have taken to him so quickly “Keep your fingers crossed for next season. If the players come in and gel quickly enough then we can get ourselves promoted. I am hopeful that Roberto will sign – he made a huge difference last season and everything goes through him. He was my room mate last season and while I am not quite reading his encyclopedias yet I would love to see him back here next season. Just make him go to sleep earlier though please.”

Leon Britton is a highly talented footballer but with that as well he is extremely easy to talk to. He has developed a passion for our club within six months and he will be a huge asset to us next season. He believes in what the club is trying to build down here and I am sure everyone is looking forward to seeing him back next season. He clearly believes he owes the fans something and we owe him plenty too. No doubt he will read this interview when it is published and also the comments that it generates on the web-sites. Leon Britton is one of those people that has just settled into Swansea City and there is no doubt that he is one of us – Leon you’re a Jack!

< p>Leon Britton was talking to Phil Sumbler

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