Pasta Master Chris Watkins Gives Swansea City’s Liam Cullen The Taste For Success

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16: Liam Cullen of Swansea City celebrates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Swansea City and Cardiff City at the Stadium on March 16, 2024 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Pasta Master Chris Watkins Gives Swansea City’s Liam Cullen The Taste For Success


By Paul Jones

Liam Cullen aims to feast against Finland this week after devouring Cardiff City thanks to Swansea’s head chef.

The Swans striker revealed he was inspired by Chris Watkins, who cooked up an inspiring pre-match team talk, not long after serving his regular eve-of-game pasta.

Cullen scored his team’s decisive appetizer and hopes his hunger for winning will continue when Wales meet the Finns in Thursday night’s crunch Euro 2024 play-off semi-final.

“Our chef gave the team talk before we went out for the game and I had goosebumps listening to him. It was unbelievable,” said Cullen.

“He reminded us what this fixture means, not just to everyone who’s in the building, but to the 20,000 who are out there, and the people who obviously can’t come to the stadium.

“He has a little plaque at his counter in the canteen, saying how many days until the next game against Cardiff. After the last one we lost, it said 184 days, so he’s a constant reminder of how much this game means.

“His pasta is also unbelievable, the day before a game.”

Local boy Cullen volleyed Swansea ahead and could even afford to miss a penalty before Jamal Lowe struck in stoppage time.

It means after Cardiff’s win in September, normal service was resumed in a rivalry that has ended in Swansea winning eight of the last 11 meetings.

As well as cupboard love for his chef, Cullen also holds dressing room love for head coach Luke Williams.

“I love him. Ever since he walked through the door, he’s been an absolute breath of fresh air.

“He’s brought a style that we all love, a real attacking style, I think. The fans want to see us play exciting attacking football.

“It’s not just the way he coaches us and the style of play that he brings. It’s the guy that he is, the staff that he’s brought with him, the whole team.

“Every player loves him. He’s a guy that I want to work with for a long time. Hopefully, that is the case and we can have many more days like this.”

Cullen, 24, is out on contract with Swansea this summer, although the club could activate a 12-month extension.

The Pembrokeshire-born forward wants to stay at the club and is hopeful a new contract can be negotiated.

“I think everyone knows what I want to do,” he added.

“This is home for me and I love playing for this club. I love representing the club, I love the fans, and I love working with the staff and the manager and obviously the players. So, everyone knows what I want to do.

“Hopefully, we can sort something out for a few more years.”

Cullen’s attention now turns to the international stage and the clash against Finland on Thursday night.

He is unlikely to make the starting line-up, but even if he also fails to make manager Rob Page’s bench, then Cullen is determined to play his part in training over the next few days.

“I’ve been involved for the last year now since I got my first cap. There’s a lot of top players in that in that squad, so I might have to be a bit patient.

“But for me, whether I play or not, I just want to go and try and help the lads prepare as best they can and give them a hard time in training, so that they’re ready to perform.

“If I’m called upon, then hopefully I’ve trained really well and I’m ready to go.

“It’s a week I’m really looking forward to. I’ve not tasted a major tournament qualification yet, so it’s something I really want to achieve.”

Defeat makes Cardiff’s play-off hopes look improbable as the Bluebirds are now eight points adrift of sixth-place with just eight games to play.

For a team on a four-game winning sequence, they were inexplicably short on self-belief.

Manager Erol Bulut seemed to concede the promotion dream had died when he admitted: “Sometimes you cannot have everything you want.

“But we won’t put our heads down. We have eight more games to play and we will try to give our best for our fans.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.