From fighting to exist to reaching the UEFA Europa League last 32, Swansea City AFC have enjoyed a rapid 11-year rise. Chairman Huw Jenkins tells us about it.
Article top media content
When Swansea City AFC kick off against SSC Napoli in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 on Thursday, they will write another chapter in a story that has been like no other in British football in recent times.
It charts the Welsh side's rise from the depths of the fourth division to the top flight and beyond, with one man at the helm throughout their journey from obscurity.
A lifelong supporter, Huw Jenkins took over as chairman in 2002. Here he tells UEFA.com about the Swansea fairy tale, which began with the club trying to "survive from day to day" and could end with success in Turin come 14 May.
UEFA.com: Huw, how different is the club now to when you arrived?
Jenkins: It's completely different. When you go back to then, our only thought was to try and survive from day to day. We were very similar to other clubs at that level, scratching around for money to pay bills and to live from week to week.
UEFA.com: What was it like on the final day of the 2002/03 season when you would have been relegated from the Football League had you not beaten Hull City AFC?
Jenkins: Well, there was a lot of pressure, a lot of stress. The fact we were there as a board of directors was a big thing, because we could have been tarnished with the reputation of being involved when the club went out of the League. Luckily, things went our way.
UEFA.com: How important to the club's development was the move to a new stadium in 2005?
Jenkins: The club needed something. The ground we were in, the Vetch Field, was outdated, and if our club was going to advance and attract better players, better managers, we needed a new home to move to. We were lucky enough with the local authority as well, Swansea city council. They assisted in the move and made sure the stadium was built. They saw the good that football could do and how it could bring back respect and recognition to the area.
UEFA.com: Ever since Roberto Martínez was appointed manager in 2007, Swansea have been famous for their passing philosophy. Has that been important in the club's rise?
Jenkins: Yes, it has been vital. We had to be slightly different to compete back then and part of that was bringing in someone like Roberto, bringing him back to our club because he had played here. That gave us a chance to go down a different route really, different to a normal British way of playing.
UEFA.com: This term the club have returned to the European stage after more than 20 years away and you got off to the perfect start by winning 3-0 at Valencia CF on matchday one. What was it like watching Swansea step out at Mestalla?
Jenkins: From a personal point of view, it was a bit unreal to go to that type of place and to see us play like we did. But afterwards, with all the coverage we had and the plaudits we got for how well we played, we quickly realised that we are at this level. Our battle now is to try and stay at this level.
UEFA.com: With this season's final taking place in Turin, do you feel there is almost a sense of destiny about Swansea's UEFA Europa League run? John Charles, one of Swansea's great footballing sons, is also revered in the Italian city because of his time with Juventus.
Jenkins: Well, I hope there is! Looking at where the final is being played and the link, as you said, with John Charles, it is something we can all think of. Let's hope that is our destiny this year and that we can make sure every player and everybody is aware of it. Then, let's see what comes at the end of the day.
Click the photo above to watch the video.