By Phil Blanche
Leon Britton has revealed he considered retirement before helping Swansea stay in the Premier League last season.
Club captain Britton’s future looked bleak when Paul Clement overlooked the 34-year-old veteran during the first few months of his tenure.
But Britton got his chance with Swansea in dire relegation straits and the midfielder played a huge role, with 13 points from the last five games keeping the Welsh club in the top flight.
Britton subsequently signed a new one-year contract in June with the option of another 12 months, but admits he felt his time at Swansea was close to an end after playing over 520 games.
‘There have been times like that (thinking about retirement), I’m not going to lie,’ Britton said ahead of Swansea’s Premier League opener at Southampton.
‘There are times when you train hard, but if you’re not playing on the weekend it’s difficult.
‘As much as I love training, there’s no better buzz as a footballer than stepping out on the pitch and playing.
‘I’ve got this year with the option of another year, depending on how many games I play. So if the worst-case scenario was I didn’t hit the amount of games, then we’d have to see what happens at the end of the season.
‘But I still feel fit, I still feel strong.’
Head coach Clement plainly showed his gratitude at the midfielder’s efforts by admitting he drank from a mug, sent in by a supporter, with the words ‘Keep calm and play Britton’.
The Londoner said he shared a joke with Clement about the mug, but Britton’s influence on Swansea’s survival last season extended to events beyond the pitch.
Before his return against Stoke he brought 25 copies of Jack to a King – a film that charts Swansea’s rise through the divisions – to the training ground to show what the club means to the community.
Britton was also behind the playing squad putting in £70,000 to fund supporters’ tickets for the crunch clash at Sunderland – a game which Swansea won 2-0 to secure their top-flight status.
‘When you play in some of those games, with the atmosphere and what’s riding on them, there’s big pressure – but it’s enjoyable,’ said Britton.
‘It’s what you want to be involved in and, as long as I keep myself fit and in good health, I feel I can contribute to this team.
‘What I wouldn’t want to do is outstay my welcome. I wouldn’t want to go out there if I couldn’t do what I’ve always been able to do.’
Part of Britton’s new deal was being guaranteed a coaching role at Swansea once he has finished his playing career.
He has completed his A Licence course, but admits his playing commitments means his Pro Licence must wait for now.
‘It will be easier for me to do that when I’ve finished (playing) and I’m coaching full-time,’ Britton said.
‘I’m ready to go now and hopefully this year we won’t have those (relegation) worries we’ve had in the last couple of seasons.
‘In the last two years Paul has been our fourth manager. That’s been unsettling and shows we’ve been under-performing as a squad and as a football club.’