Swans defender Matty Collins enjoying his rise through the ranks
HAVING made the transition from domestic outcast to international squad member in just a few months, Matty Collins is living proof of how quickly fortunes can change in football.
The former Fulham midfielder endured a frustrating season at Swansea City after swapping Craven Cottage for the Liberty Stadium a year last May.
But after making just one brief appearance last term in the now defunct FAW Premier Cup, Collins is living in the fast lane.
The trust and faith Roberto Martinez has had in the 22-year-old over the summer has reaped dividends — for club as well as player.
So well has Collins adapted to his new position at right-back, it earned a surprise international call-up from John Toshack.
Having started the opening Championship games at Charlton and Nottingham Forest, Collins impressed his national boss enough to earn a late call-up.
Collins was an unused substitute in the drab 2-1 defeat by Georgia at the Liberty on Wednesday night, underlining his rise from club fringe player to the international squad.
"Yeah, it has been a mad few weeks," admitted Collins, who spent a brief spell on loan at Wrexham last season.
"It just goes to show how quickly things can turn around in football.
"I had a phone call off Roberto on Sunday night. I thought it was pretty much a routine call but he told me that I'd be training with Wales the next day.
"The squad had already been named and I was not in it, so the call-up was a huge shock, but a welcome one.
"Roberto told me that John Toshack was at the Forest game, although I didn't know until afterwards.
"But it wouldn't have mattered if I had known beforehand, I was fully focused on our game.
"I have been given the chance to start at right-back by Roberto for the first two league games, and I think that's why I was pulled in."
Collins had a few familiar faces in the Wales set-up, with club colleagues Owain Tudur Jones and Ashley Williams involved.
Like Collins, Tudur Jones was an unused substitute while Williams played the whole game at the heart of the Welsh defence.
And Collins revealed he has soaked up the entire Wales experience as he aims to add to his caps at under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels.
"It was great to be involved in training with the likes of Simon Davies, Jason Koumas, Robert Earnshaw and Freddy Eastwood," he said.
"I can only learn from being in that environment. I didn't get on against Georgia but the overall experience was a positive one.
"Since being out of the picture with Swansea to being involved with Wales has been one extreme to the next."
With Collins now under Toshack's wing, he is hoping this call-up won't prove to be a one-off.
But with strong competition for the right-back slot at Swansea, Collins has a fight on his hands to stay in contention at club level, let alone on the international stage.
"I can't sit back now," acknowledged Collins, whose two-year contract runs out next summer.
"I have to fight for a starting place with Swansea and hopefully that will keep me in the frame for Welsh selection.
"Angel Rangel is a top player and Alan Tate is also battling for a starting place, which means there is a lot of healthy competition in this squad.
"That can only be good for the players and manager because we are all pushing each other forward. We are not the kind of players that hold it against one another if you miss out.
"We all want to play and help the club do well, and we all respect Roberto's decisions."