Less than a dozen Swansea City players have made an international debut for Wales since 2000 but fluent Welsh speaker Owain Tudur Jones is one of that elite band of players to grace both jerseys.
Those of you with good memories will recall Kenny Jackett handing Tudur Jones a trial in June 2005, before permanently signing the League of Wales player from club Bangor City on a one year deal a month later.
Making his debut for the Swans against Tranmere Rovers at the very first league game at the Liberty Stadium, OTJ as he became known to the Jack Army, would go on to make 44 appearances for the club, scoring three times, during his 4 year stint at the Swans.
No doubt he would have made more appearances for the Swans, were it not for a troublesome knee problem. He did however make his debut for the Wales Under-21 and the Wales senior sides, during his time at the Liberty Stadium.
After leaving the Swans, OTJ played for Norwich City, Swindon Town (loan), Yeovil Town (loan), Brentford (loan), Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hibernian and Falkirk. Sadly in 2015, he retired from playing professional football having taken specialist medical advice about his on-going knee injury.
Nowadays, Owain can be found doing media work for BBC Wales and S4C, where he is a regular analyst on Sgorio – the Welsh-language football programme.
He also produces The Longman’s Football World Podcast, which features regular interviews with a wide variety of people from the sporting and media world.
Of particular interest to Swansea fans will be the interviews with fan favourites Lee Trundle, Leon Britton, Garry Monk and Ferrie Bodde.
Here is what the former Swan and Wales International had to say when the SCFC2 team caught up with him…
Q: What are your favourite on and off-field memories of your time at the Swans?
On the field – my first goal at Walsall, starting in the first South Wales derby for nine years in the League Cup. And also running up to Lee Trundle after he scored his wonder goal vs Yeovil at The Liberty and him shouting “I’m a genius” over and over. Off the pitch is a no brainer – Christmas parties!
Q: Roberto Martinez once tipped you to be a future Wales captain. What was your initial reaction to his comments?
Roberto had a habit of coming out with big statements. And in fairness to him they would sometimes come true. The danger with it is it can go one of two ways. It can have the desired effect and give the player confidence that his manager has so much belief in him, but it can also go the other way where it’s almost like a stick for people to beat you with if it doesn’t happen. I’m quite a chilled character so it didn’t bother me. I used to share rooms with Ashley Williams on Wales trips, so I guess Roberto was right that someone from that room would go on to be Captain, he just went with the wrong one.
Q: What do you think has gone wrong at Swansea City and do you think they’ll stay in the Premier League this season?
They seem to have turned the corner under the new manager. They just have to continue with the intensity they’ve been playing with and hopefully they’ll be safe for another year. It’s amazing to think that another ‘great escape’ is possible as I, along with most, thought the end of the dream was near. The biggest difference I’ve noticed with Carvalhal is that players are playing with less fear and are more willing to take risks and break their necks to get in the box. For too long there would only be 1/2 players in the box, whereas now here seems to be 3/4/5 players joining the attacks.
Q: You made your full Wales international debut against Luxembourg in March 2006, the same time as current Wales captain and former Swan Ashley Williams. What do you remember most about your Wales debut?
Tosh was the manager at the time and had been wanting to get me involved for a year and a half, but injuries meant I had to wait while others were given their opportunities at International level. Unfortunately I still wasn’t quite right with my knee troubles (and probably never was again) so definitely wasn’t ever able to perform as I once could have. But it was still brilliant to get on at half time and get my first touches of the ball in a Welsh shirt.
Q: What is the most memorable game you ever played in and why?
Scoring my first goal for Swansea at Walsall was brilliant, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final win against Carlisle, any one of my Wales caps, winning away at Celtic and Rangers in the same week for Inverness Caley Thistle. All great memories. Probably the one game I’ll never be able to forget, for the wrong reasons is my Norwich Debut. Home vs Colchester. Full house of 26,000, 5-0 down half time, and lost 7-1. That was a sign of how my personal playing career would go with the Canaries, although I loved being part of that squad for a very successful two years.
Q: Having played football in the Scottish Premier League, how would you say the standard compares to the other top flight leagues?
It’s definitely a better, more competitive standard than its given credit for. The standard really varies from game to game. For example one week we could be playing away at Ross County in front of a crowd of 3,000-4,000 playing a team that would compete probably League 2 – bottom half League One level, the next we’d be at Parkhead to play Celtic in front of 50,000+ against a team that would be decent in The Championship. I felt it was great to step away from the English pyramid system and get different experiences north of the border.
Q: If there was one thing you could change about Welsh football, what would it be and why?
For selfish reasons, I’d permanently bring back the Wales C (formerly Semi-Pro) team. I’ve just been appointed assistant manager for a one off game vs England at Barry Town’s Jenner Park at the end of March. If it would back long term, it could mean a more permanent job for me. In all seriousness it’s a great thing for the players in the Welsh Pyramid system to be able to aspire to representing their country at their level.
Q: If you hadn’t been a professional footballer, what profession would you have gone into?
I really don’t know. I was close to finishing my first Year in University studying Sport Science when I signed for Swansea, but my heart was never in it. Maybe I would’ve got a job at a Zoo washing the giraffe’s necks.
Q: You recently launched your own Podcast ‘The Longman’s Football World’ featuring current and former players. What was the thinking behind this?
The main reason behind starting the podcast was to give myself a platform to improve presenting skills, interviewing different people about different things without a script. Having my own podcast means I can control the content & also to try and develop the skills needed to get the guests to feel relaxed, share more and to be themselves more than they are able to in normal interviews.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 7 years’ time?
Healthy, happy, with no arthritis in my knee. I’ve definitely got plans and targets in mind within the media world of where I want to be. But I’ll keep those to myself.
We’d like to thank Owain for his time and wish him all the very best with his upcoming game as assistant manager of the Wales C team against England. Dewch ymlaen Cymru!!
If you’d like to keep up to date with OTJ’s media work and podcasts, then we recommend you follow him on twitter.
— Owain Tudur Jones (@OwainTJones17) October 25, 2017
Interview by Duncan Thomas.