Swansea City's journey from the brink to League Cup glory

By Richard WilliamsBBC Wales Sport at Wembley
Bradford 0-5 Swansea: Swans celebrate League Cup final victory

Swansea had to wait 100 years for their League Cup celebration party, but this was a victory 10 years in the making.

Bradford City were outclassed 5-0 by a club who in 2003 were four divisions below them and on the brink of dropping out of the Football League.

And Sunday's stylish dissection of Bradford on the carefully clipped and manicured acres of Wembley Stadium was a landmark on the journey that started at a dilapidated Vetch Field in May 2003.

Don't take it from me though, ask Leon Britton.

The slight-of-stature Swansea midfielder who joyfully leaped on top of the human pyramid of celebrating players in front of the Swans fans after their Capital One Cup triumph.

He played in the 4-2 victory over Hull that day in 2003, and cannot believe the transformation he has seen at Swansea City.

"It's unbelievable. To do this, and in the club's centenary year as well, it just keeps getting better and better," he said.

"You have to give credit to everyone at the football club. They're an example of how a club should be run, and great days like today is what happens if you run the club well.

"It means so much to me, I've played over 400 games for the club, been here over 10 years.

"I've seen a lot of staff and players come and go, but they just keep on improving and it's great to be part of."

The genesis of the revival came when a consortium of local businessmen took over in January 2002.

Huw Jenkins, the current chairman, took on the role "some time in February 2002" according to the club.

The details are vague but the effects are clear.

Brian Flynn, the manager who managed to keep the club in the Football League, departed and was replaced by another former Wales international Kenny Jackett.

He got the club out of the bottom professional division and when he left, Jenkins made perhaps his key appointment. He turned Roberto Martinez from a player to a manager.

"I'd never thought of becoming a manager until Huw spoke to me. He talked me into it," Martinez said in the week leading up to the Capital One Cup final.

Martinez, who is now Wigan manager, steered Swansea into the Championship, and established their distinctive passing style which was shown to devastating effect against Bradford.

His departure saw the appointment of Paulo Sousa who took Swansea to seventh in the second tier before Brendan Rodgers took over and took them to the Premier League.

Michael Laudrup's appointment after Rodgers's departure for Liverpool last summer was Jenkins's latest master stroke.

Jenkins says the success is down to the way the club is run. The fans have a 20% share and managers have to stick with the Swansea style and spend within the club's means.

"There's no financial pressure on the players or the manager to win," said Jenkins.

"They can enjoy themselves and play the game."

What he means is that the club will not be left bankrupt if they miss out on European places or - an unlikely outcome now - are relegated.

Garry Monk, a nine-year veteran at Swansea City, said the League Cup win is a pinnacle of a long journey.

Anyone who was at that sandy, threadbare Vetch Field in 2003 will know exactly what he means.

And Britton, who was there that day, knows better than most the impact it has had on the city of Swansea and its citizens.

"I know I'm a Londoner, but this place is special," he said.

"My wife is from Swansea, I live in Swansea and I want to stay in Swansea after I've finished playing."

The fact he said that on London's most famous football pitch underlines the magnitude of the success.

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