2014/2015 English Premier League
Previous Clubs: None
Former Denmark star Michael Laudrup left a lasting legacy at Swansea but his dismissal in February 2014 -- after a run of just one win in 10 league games which saw the club thrown into a relegation scrap -- highlighted the need for a new man at the helm. Someone with passion, someone who knew the Swans inside out. Someone like Garry Monk.
Few people have played as significant a part in Swansea City's fairytale story as Monk. In the space of just one decade, the Welsh side found themselves transformed from a club in crisis and on the brink of falling out of the Football League into a Premier League force lifting the League Cup and winning 3-0 at Spanish giants Valencia in European competition. On the pitch, Monk was there through much of their ascent.
The decision to award the Swansea job temporarily to Monk represented a massive gamble on chairman Huw Jenkins' part. To the outside world, switching from a European household name like Laudrup to the relatively unknown and inexperienced Monk appeared to highlight a backward step and one which undermined Swansea's continental buzz.
However, Monk was a proven leader at centre-half -- a man who captained Swansea through the divisions, making over 250 appearances for the club. Beginning his career as a sturdy centre-half at Torquay United, Monk saw his Southampton career littered with loan stints before joining Swansea on a free transfer in 2004. He is one of only a handful of players to have captained the same team throug all four tiers of the English Football League
Sadly, Monk witnessed his Premier League career curtailed by a long-term knee injury and despite handing over the captaincy to Ashley Williams, he remained an influential figure of authority in the dressing room -- even if he was embroiled in a hostile training ground altercation with fellow Swans centre-back Chico Flores.
He may not be a big name in the Premier League but Monk showed during his decade at Swansea that he is an inspiration and a man who is respected by his peers. His 2012 autobiography "Loud, Proud and Positive" gave Swans fans a valuable insight into the club, with Monk telling how he fired up his side ahead of the Championship playoff final win over Reading by dedicating their performance to 22-year-old Swansea striker Besian Idrizaj, who tragically died in his sleep in May 2010.
"When I look at the pictures of me from that game, I looked so pale and gaunt," Monk said. "Normally I weigh around the 85kg mark for games, but for the [Championship playoff] final I was 79kg. I couldn't have been in any worse condition on the eve of such an important match. I fought against all the negative feelings. I was the captain and I had to lead by example. Besides, you'd have had to kill me to stop me from playing in that final."
Monk had long harboured aspirations to enter into management and was in the process of completing his UEFA 'A' License when Swansea appointed him. In him, Swans supporters know they have a man who will fight tooth and nail to achieve the best for the club. He did just that in his first half-season, steering the club to a 12th-placed finish.
Quotes: "I've learnt a lot from him and he's a great captain, a club captain, and he leads by example. I've learnt a lot off him how to organise a team and how to conduct yourself on and off the field, and I think he's a model pro." Ashley Williams praises Monk's leadership qualities in July 2013.
Trivia: Monk played in both Southampton's last league fixture at the Dell (a 3-2 victory over Arsenal) and Swansea's last league fixture at the Vetch Field (a 1-0 victory against Shrewsbury Town).
Words: Max Bentley