Big Nev is a big admirer of Swansea's style
WALES legend Neville Southall admits he is glowing with patriotic pride to see Swansea City in the Premier League.
Southall was just starting out the last time Swansea graced the top flight.
The 92-cap goalkeeper, who went on to become an Everton icon, signed for the Toffees a month before Swansea began the 1981-82 campaign.
His first season at Goodison Park was Swansea's most successful ever as they finished sixth in the old First Division.
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But during Southall's next 16 years on Merseyside, Swansea tumbled dramatically down the ladder and remained in the lower leagues.
There they stayed until the latest rapid rise, and Southall is thrilled to see Swansea back in the big time.
"As a Welshman, of course I'm proud to see Swansea playing Premier League football," he said.
"I'm passionate about seeing all the Welsh teams do well.
"I know the area of Swansea as well because I've played enough games around there.
"The amount of jobs it must have created and wealth it's brought into the area must be phenomenal.
"People look at the football side, but there's an economic side as well.
"There must be pubs around the ground that in the old days had five or six people in. Now they'll be heaving.
"It's also nice for the older supporters who have supported them through thick and thin to see Swansea play teams like Manchester United."
Southall insists he was never one of the doubters who wrote Swansea off before they shot to an 11th-place finish last season.
That is where Michael Laudrup's side sit now, but the man who made a record 578 league appearances for Everton reckons staying there could be a tall order.
He believes Swansea must fight to force their way into the top half before January.
That will provide a points cushion for the second half of the campaign.
"I thought Swansea were brilliant last year and I always thought they'd stay up because they were better defensively than Blackpool," he added.
"They played a brand of football that everyone wanted to watch, it was purists' football.
"Swansea had people playing without any fear, and once you get that people can relax and enjoy themselves.
"I think they'd be delighted to finish 11th this year.
"They want to be in the top ten by Christmas and have a fair few points more than the bottom three.
"In the new year maybe they can buy another couple to enhance their squad and I think they'll do well."
Laudrup is facing his first test since arriving in South Wales as Swansea take on Reading tomorrow after suffering three straight defeats.
Southall came up against the former Real Madrid and Barcelona midfielder when Wales beat Denmark 1-0 in a 1987 World Cup qualifier.
And he is convinced the 48-year-old is the right man to take Swansea forwards.
"Michael Laudrup is a good manager, he has the same philosophy as Brendan Rodgers, but a few different contacts," added Southall.
"I think he'll do a good job.
"What Swansea have done really cleverly is get someone like Michael Laudrup in who plays the same style of football.
"And because he's come from outside he won't have all the stigma that comes with being a British manager.
"The chairman deserves a lot of credit as well.
"They've got a fantastic stadium, a fantastic team and now they've brought in a fantastic manager."
You can almost feel the big man beaming.