Gwion Edwards nearly fulfilled his Premier League dream with Swansea... now he returns with Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:04 06 October 2018
It's May 13, 2012 and Gwion Edwards is standing on the Liberty Stadium touchline waiting for his lifelong dream to come true.
He’s standing next to Swans manager Brendan Rodgers, stripped off and ready to come on for his Premier League debut, which will come the next time the ball goes out of play.
Sadly it never arrived and the 25-year-old left Swansea without a senior appearance to his name.
The Welsh winger will finally appear at the home of his boyhood club this weekend in an Ipswich shirt, though, watched by family and friends, looking to help his new club arrest a worrying slide which has seen them fail to win any of their opening 11 league games.
“It was the last game of the season and we were playing Liverpool at home,” he said. “I was on the bench and it came into the last five minutes of the game, so I’ve got stripped and am ready to come on. Brendan’s got his arm round me, telling me the tactics, but the ball didn’t go out of play.
“At the time Swansea used to pass it and Liverpool used to pass it and the fourth official put the board up and added two minutes. The ball eventually went out a minute into the stoppage time but our ball boy threw the ball to (Martin) Kelly, the Liverpool right back and he took a quick throw before the ref could turn and do the sub.
“Then there was no time left and I didn’t get on.
“My mum still has the shirt at home. All the lads signed it and told me how gutted they were for me that I didn’t get on. At the time I wasn’t too worried because Brendan had said I was going to be a part of the team the following season.
“But two weeks later Brendan went to Liverpool and Michael Laudrup came in and wasn’t really looking at the young lads. We didn’t get much of a look in and that’s when I went out on loan to St Johnstone.
“Football, eh. It was disappointing at the time but you have to use those things to motivate you.”
Edwards spent time on loan at St Johnstone and Crawley before joining the Red Devils permanently in 2014, subsequently becoming one of League One’s stand-out players with Peterborough prior to his move to Ipswich this summer.
He will always have a soft spot for Swansea but insists he doesn’t return this weekend with a point to prove.
“I really enjoyed it there after coming through the youth team and signing as a pro,” he said.
“It’s developed a lot since I left, with a new training ground up and running, but there’s been a great staff and great players although I’m not sure there are too many left from my time there.
“It was great to be part of their journey, watching from behind the scenes as they moved up the league.
“Brendan Rodgers came in the last year of my time in the youth team and he took them into the Premier League. I signed my first year pro deal after they got promoted and all the young lads signing professionally at that time were excited, thinking if we got a chance we would be playing in the Premier League which is everyone’s dream.
“I was a bit unlucky with that but these things happen and I’m really looking forward to be going back.
“It’s disappointing to leave a club where you’ve come through the youth team but I had to leave and it was really my choice to do that and try and play games.
“I might have got a chance but sometimes you have to branch out and try and build a career somewhere else.
“I think most of the lads did sit back there and not many are playing today. So it was a big call and not one I regret because as my career’s gone so far I’ve worked myself up and I’m in the Championship with Ipswich.
“I’ve come through the youth team at Swansea and loved it there so I have no hard feelings or anything like that.”
He’ll be watched by family and friends this afternoon, with loyalties split.
“My mum and two brothers will be coming down and a lot of people from where I’m from are Swansea supporters, because that’s the local team, so lots of them have told my mum and brothers they have their tickets and will be coming down,” Edwards said.
“They will be in the home end and my family will be in the away end. A few of my friends from Swansea are going to come down as well so it will be good to see some faces.”