Date:Friday August 1 2008
Swansea City will give thanks to one of the clubs longest serving players tomorrow afternoon as Premiership new boys West Bromwich Albion come to the Liberty Stadium to celebrate the career of Kristian O Leary in his testimonial game.
Players loyal to their clubs are becoming a dying breed with money ruling the roost over player ambition, Kristian O Leary has bucked this trend and has remained sternly committed to the club through thick and thin despite interest from other clubs. O Leary made his professional début during the 1995/96 season and has amassed an impressive 300 + appearances in a Swansea shirt over the past 13 years. It was inconceivable to many that the midfielder would make a move away from the club he lives and breaths.
That is exactly what happened in 2006 after finding it tough to break into the first team the club veteran was given a massive opportunity to secure a starting berth with then league rivals Cheltenham Town. He made only five appearances scoring one goal in his loan period but it made a lasting impression on then manager John Ward. In the summer of 2007 O Leary was posed with a dilemma and one which would signal both his loyalty to the club but would see him finish his career with Swansea City.
Out of contract with the club the midfielder turned down a lucrative two year deal with Cheltenham Town. Over the summer whilst on holiday the Port Talbot born player decided to stay with the Swans despite not being guaranteed first team football. Since then appearances for the club have been few and far between but it is his influence off the pitch and his guidance to younger players that could see O Leary leave a lasting legacy at the club he first signed for in 1994.
It is only fitting that the midfielder should be able to challenge himself against premier league opposition potentially for the last time. Roberto Martinez is expected to play a full strength squad tomorrow evening but will be without the services of Gorka Pintado who suffered a groin strain in the 3-2 win over Chester City last night. Other notable absentees are Jason Scotland and Angel Rangel who are a few weeks of full fitness after going under the knife. Swansea new boy Stefan Morrison could face his former club after signing on a free transfer his summer.
West Brom manager Tony Mowbray has strengthened his squad for next season spending over £15 million in the process. Aston Villa's Luke Moore has arrived for a fee believed to be around £3 million whilst out of favour Liverpool shot stopper Scott Carson, Dutch midfielder Gianni Zuiverloon, Czech striker Roman Bednar and Slovakian left back Marek Cech all arrive for a combined fee of around £10 million. Mowbray has lost the services of influential and vastly experienced striker Kevin Phillips who has signed for Birmingham and Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera. It was thought the former Hibs boss was even lining up a move for Ferrie Bodde but no bid was received.
Date:Friday August 1 2008
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