Alan Curtis: Story of a Swansea City legend

By Michael PearlmanBBC Wales Sport
Alan Curtis
Alan Curtis scored six goals in his 35 appearances for Wales

Alan Curtis has had so many roles at Swansea City, he struggles to recall them all.

Curtis has served the Swans as a community officer, youth coach, first team coach (twice), assistant manager, caretaker manager (twice), match day host and head of youth development.

Oh.... and he has been a player - appearing in more than 400 games in three separate spells - and is now the interim manager.

"I've been sold twice, sacked twice and given a free transfer as well," he joked.

The 61-year-old known affectionately as 'Mr Swansea City' faces arguably the toughest challenge in his 44-year association with the Swans - to keep his beloved club in the Premier League.

Alan Curtis remembers his favourite goal for Swansea against Leeds United in 1981

His first game at the old Vetch was back in 1972. Famed for his ability to swerve his body and produce a goal from nothing, Curtis was a fearsome striker, capped 35 times by his country while playing for Leeds United and Southampton.

Such is the admiration Swansea fans have for Curtis, even a spell at arch rivals Cardiff City has not affected his legendary status at The Liberty.

Football in the blood

Having spent a lifetime in the game, it is easy to make the case that for Curtis football was always in the blood.

His uncle was Roy Paul, who captained Manchester City to FA Cup success in 1956 against Birmingham City in a contest synonymous with City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, who played on despite suffering a broken neck. Paul, too, was a Wales international, earning 33 caps.

Alan Curtis (left)in action for Cardiff against Swansea in 1987
Although a legend at Swansea, Alan Curtis (left) also played for Cardiff. Here he is in action against the Swans in 1987

Born and raised in the Rhondda Valley, Curtis admits his entire adult life has been connected to the club he loves.

"Football has always been the passion, but Swansea has been my life since 17 or 18," he said.

Other than a 12-month hiatus at Leeds, Curtis was an integral member of the great Swans team shaped by John Toshack in the late 1970s and early 80s - the side the future Wales and Real Madrid boss took from the fourth division to the top six of the top tier inside five years.

Swansea's rise and fall - and rise

On the two occasion Swansea have risen from English football's fourth tier to the top, Curtis has played a pivotal role.

Curtis was part of the coaching staff when Swansea were a game away from dropping out of the Football League in 2003.

He was not being paid at one stage as the club entered administration - but never complained.

Alan Curtis
Swansea's Alan Curtis (left) takes on Liverpool's Phil Thompson (centre) and Graeme Souness in 1982

Curtis remained in the backroom staff as they powered their way through the divisions again to the Premier League in 2011, before winning the 2013 League Cup and qualifying for the Europa League.

Even the staff profile on Swansea's official website describes Curtis as a "legend" but he believes that has more to do with hyperbole than his 40-year association with the club.

"I think people become legends these days. All you need to do is be at a club for a season and you automatically become one," he told BBC Wales Sport.

"People like Robbie James, Jeremy Charles, Ivor Allchurch and Herbie Williams - those are the people you consider to be the real [Swansea] legends."

He is Curt by name, courteous by nature. The man everyone in football adores.

The Swans are currently two points above the relegation zone - and should Curtis keep them in the Premier League, the club's admiration of the man will know no bounds.