'Ferrie Bodde — brilliant with his feet, only let down by those knees'
SWANSEA City have said goodbye to perhaps their brightest star that never was.
Ferrie Bodde's departure from the Liberty Stadium has been confirmed after his Swansea contract expired over the weekend.
The supremely gifted Dutchman leaves after five years and 59 appearances.
If ever a player has exited SA1 without fulfilling his potential, Bodde is that man.
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There was a murmur of excitement among Swansea's followers when Bodde arrived from ADO Den Haag back in 2007.
He was billed as a talented playmaker, and he would not disappoint.
Bodde was a star in his debut Swansea season, playing regularly and having a strong influence on his team as Roberto Martinez's men romped to the League One title.
There were bleak moments, like the red cards against Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United which helped earn Bodde his 'Evil Genius' moniker among the Swansea support.
But the midfielder's overall contribution was unquestionably positive, and led to the first suggestions that he might be tempted away by a club from a higher level.
Almost from the outset, the fee of £50,000 rising to £85,000 which Swansea stumped up for Bodde's services looked a snip.
If his stock had risen steadily throughout the course of 2007-08, it rocketed in the opening months of the following campaign.
He scored seven goals in his first 19 appearances of the new term, one of which, the strike from miles out at Preston North End, goes down as one of the great Swansea goals.
The last of the seven came at Norwich City in mid-November, a memorable finish which was followed by a memorable celebration as Swansea triumphed 3-2 at Carrow Road.
Little did Swansea's delirious pocket of travelling fans know then that this would be Bodde's last meaningful act in the white jersey.
Six days later, on a Friday night when Birmingham City were in town, Bodde's leg caught in the Liberty turf and years of knee problems began.
Even after Bodde first suffered cruciate ligament damage, Swansea would reject big-money offers for his services from both Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic.
In fact they fought tooth and nail to fend off interest in a player who could pass, tackle and score goals.
With hindsight, they must wish they had sold.
Bodde made two brief comebacks the following season, but both ended in further knee problems.
He played for Brendan Rodgers in a pre-season friendly at Neath last summer but suffered another setback, then a cruciate ligament in Bodde's other knee snapped during a reserve game last February.
Here was the final straw.
Swansea have tried everything to get Bodde back on to the pitch, but this was one injury blow too many.
Bodde, 30, has now returned to his homeland and is training with Den Haag, trying once again to restart his career.
"It feels as if I'm leaving home to go home," Bodde said.
"After five years here, I'm going to miss Swansea and its people.
"It's been frustrating at times with all the injuries, but the fans have always been very supportive and warm towards me.
"Playing an important role in the side that clinched promotion to the Championship was a big highlight for me, along with experiencing the Swansea- Cardiff derby in the Carling Cup.
"I still watch the DVD now — that game felt like a World Cup final.
"But I'll always be sad that I couldn't work properly under Brendan Rodgers and show him what I could do."
A great pity for the player, Bodde's demise is also a shame for the club he leaves behind.
"There is no doubting his talent," said Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins.
"He would have been one of the best players in the Championship and probably one of the best in the Premier League barring the injuries he's had to put up with."
That is Bodde — brilliant with his feet, but let down by his knees.