It was a pretty perfect debut for Swansea City legend Leon Britton donning the Llanelli Town jersey for the first time, as the Reds overcame Llandudno 2-1 in a crucial clash at the foot of the table.
We caught up with the 36-year-old midfield maestro for his first chat with WPL.Cymru following Saturday’s game. Hear more from Britton below!
“It did take me a couple of days to recover, but that’s natural because I haven’t played for six months – ok, I’ve been for a run a few times in those months, but there’s a big difference between running along the promenade in Swansea and sprinting, chopping and changing direction to be fair!
“I really enjoyed the game, it was a great experience. I’ve been fortunate in my career, of course, to play in the English Premier League, but I also played in the Championship, League One and League Two, so I’ve played at various levels against various styles of football and that can only help me as I try to adapt to the JD Welsh Premier League.
“Saturday was huge in terms of playing against direct opposition, we knew it was a massive game and winning it was hugely important to us – we’re hoping this can be the springboard to bring confidence to the team for the last 11 games of the season to really push up the table, and I can’t see why we can’t achieve that.
“We have good players, we have real quality here, and I don’t see – with the confidence that Saturday’s win has given us – why we can’t go on a run and push up the table.”
Synonymous with a more expansive, technical style of football, Britton’s considerable experience and talents fit in well with Andy Hill’s philosophy for the side to build out from the back and dominate possession.
The club has struggled to adapt their philosophy to the JD Welsh Premier League at times this season, with the manager noting throughout the term that learning how to adopt their philosophy more effectively has been their biggest challenge, and for Britton – who confesses to have missed playing football over the last six months – the playing style and environment was one of his biggest draws to join Llanelli.
“Yeah, it has been six months since I finished with Swansea City and obviously I enjoyed that time to myself, being able to do things with the family and enjoy not playing football, but at the same time I have missed it and being involved.
“When the opportunity came to speak with the guys at the club, the last 10 days or so, I decided that everything was right and that it would be a good move for myself, the club decided it would be a good move for them, and I felt it would be nice to get the boots back on.
“One of the biggest draws was the way the team plays, definitely. It would have been no good for me to go anywhere where the style of play was any different, because that wouldn’t suit me and I wouldn’t benefit the team, so I wouldn’t enjoy it, but with this team they play a brand of football that suits my game.
“I know a lot of the players here because they were at Swansea City as youngsters, so they’ve had a good education in the game and are very technical, so I think the style of play and everything like that suits me down to the ground.”
It is well documented how another Swansea legend had quite the impact at Stebonheath in recent times, as Lee Trundle scored a hatful of goals on a regular basis to help the Reds tear their way through the Welsh footballing pyramid.
Trundle and Britton enjoy a close relationship due to their roles as ambassadors for Swansea City, and the two did discuss the prospect of Britton joining Andy Hill’s side in advance of the move, with Trundle giving a glowing endorsement of the Carmarthenshire club.
“Yeah, I spoke to Lee Trundle quite a lot about the club and about the idea of coming here to be honest with you. Working at Swansea now we’re pretty much working together on a daily basis as ambassadors for the football club, and he couldn’t speak highly enough of the club.
“He loved his time at Llanelli and really enjoyed it, I know he had a massive impact here and helped them a lot, and he said good things about the management and the style of football and so on.
“He highly recommended the club, of course, couldn’t speak highly enough of it and of course that was one of the factors that encouraged me to come and sign here.”
One of the first questions posed to Britton at the press conference following his signing related to how his arrival at JDWPL level might be the most significant transfer in the league’s history.
No stranger to pressure having played hundreds of games for Swansea City and experiencing environments from League Two right the way up to the Premier League, how does the 36-year-old approach that kind of reaction to his joining Llanelli?
“Of course there might be expectation, because of – and I don’t mean to sound big-headed at all, but where I’ve come from in terms of my career, but I always put pressure on myself anyway whether I’m playing for Swansea in the English Premier League or playing for Llanelli in the Welsh Premier League.
“I’ll always put pressure on myself to be the best that I can be, to train as hard as I can, play my game as well as I can like I’ve done my whole career, and that approach has served me well before so hopefully if I can do the same here it’ll serve me well in this period from now until the end of the season.
“I want to help push this team up the table, that is the main objective from now until the end of the season, but on a personal note I just want to get back to enjoying my football. I just want to enjoy the game from now until the end of the season, get the boots back on, hopefully get some wins and be able to look back on this time at the end of the season as something I really enjoyed.”
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