Kristian O'Leary: 'It is great to be back at Swansea City'
KRISTIAN O'Leary has rejoined the club he served for 15 years as a player after landing a role on Michael Laudrup's Swansea City coaching staff.
Swansea stalwart O'Leary made nearly 350 appearances for the club before departing in the spring of 2010.
Now 34, he returns to the Liberty Stadium as a coach whose chief job will be to oversee the development of Swansea's young professionals and a new under-21 reserve side.
"It's great to be back at my club," said the former Swansea captain.
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"It was the July 4, 1994 when I started my apprenticeship at Swansea, and I cannot express how proud I am to be involved with the club again.
"When I left Swansea as a player I had a little spell at Wrexham and I had a couple of offers that summer to stay on at Wrexham or stay in the league.
"But I made the decision then to come out of that and concentrate on the next stage of my career which was coaching.
"I did my licences and I have been studying for a degree in coaching performance.
"Then I got the opportunity to manage Neath, and coming back to Swansea is the next stage for me."
O'Leary, who first joined Swansea as a schoolboy 20 years ago, will work with players who have graduated from the club's youth ranks but are not ready to move straight into Laudrup's first team.
The Premier League's reserve league is to become an under-21 competition from this season, and O'Leary will run that side in conjunction with Swansea youth boss Tony Pennock. Alan Curtis, who has been working with Swansea's development players in recent years, is set for a new role in Laudrup's backroom team.
"When I started out in coaching, the one club I wanted to be working for was Swansea," added O'Leary, who left his role as Neath manager earlier this summer because of the club's financial problems.
"A lot of people thought when I went to Neath that I had gone there to put my feet up, but I went there with a plan to start out as a coach and I have worked hard to get where I am.
"Coming back to Swansea, trying to help the younger players develop and working with the some of the first-teamers, is the next step for me."
O'Leary met Laudrup for the first time yesterday along with other members of Swansea's coaching staff.
"We had a chat about what he expects, how he works and what his plans are for the club," he explained.
Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins welcomed the return of one of the club's finest servants.
"We are delighted Kristian has accepted the opportunity to work with our young players," he said.
"Kristian's relationship with this football club goes back 20 years and we know what Swansea City means to him.
"It's vital our staff have the passion and commitment for this club because it sets the right example and environment for all our players to work in on a daily basis."