Alan Curtis - Football Profile
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Born Rhondda, April 16, 1954
Alan Curtis had three spells with Swansea City in his eighteen year career during which time the club lurched from lows to highs and back again in manic style. In that time Curtis undoubtedly established himself as one of the clubs true legends.
Curtis first broke into the Swansea side in the 1972-73 season and the promising youngster was given an immediate taste of the turbulence that lay ahead as the club suffered relegation into the fourth division.
In division four Curtis immediately began to prosper even though his club continued to struggle. The only questionmark concerning the talented youngster soon became how best to utilise his skills.
He was quick and could finish, was a dangerous dribbler and could see and execute a pass. He was still very young, however, and not the biggest. He was already an obvious target for some pretty uncomplicated defending.
Generally employed out wide at first, as he matured and filled out into a man he found himself pushed further forward.
The development of Alan Curtis was a massive boost to the struggling club and the emergence of Robbie James a couple of years later put The Swans in a position to push forward again.
In 1977 the club missed out on promotion by a single point but the next season things really started to happen for both Swansea and Curtis. Curtis banged in six goals in the first six games and didn't stop scoring all season.
Then, at the beginning of March with the club on the fringe of a promotion place, Swansea sensationally secured the services of John Toshack as player manager.
By the end of the season Curtis had managed 32 goals in just 39 games and Swansea had won promotion.
The following season the Swans were promoted again with Alan Curtis again prominent. His quicksilver skills seemed vital to the teams' further progress as Toshack bolstered his side with a host of solid, experienced campaigners but at the end of this season he was sold to Leeds United for £370,000.
It seemed a surprising move by the club and a potential poisoned chalice for Curtis but, in a round about way, the move would work out nicely for both.
Curtis struggled to make an impression at Elland Road although it might be unfair to label him a failure at the club.
Leeds were a team struggling to maintain their place among the countries elite at this time as the last remnants of their great sides of the sixties and seventies disappeared.
All around the side holes had appeared which had not been adequately filled. There is no doubt that Alan Curtis also was not of the calibre of player who had graced Elland Road in the recent past but he still showed enough flashes of quality to suggest that he might have flourished had he stepped into a stronger side.
His debut was certainly encouraging, scoring both his sides' goals in a draw at Bristol City but there were not enough highlights to follow.
Adding to his problems in establishing himself was an injury which sidelined him for the second half of his first season there.
Unable to command a regular place on his return from injury Curtis soon found himself back at the Vetch Field, chasing promotion to the first division with Toshack's Swansea who had made a neat £200,000 profit in bringing their lad back home.
Despite a desperate run shortly after his return the club bounced back strongly to clinch promotion to the top flight for the only time in their history.
This completed the amazing journey from fourth division to first under Toshack and gave some indication of why he would prove such a success as manager on the continent later.
After re-signing Curtis to replace Alan Waddle it could be argued that the Swans gained promotion without a recognised centre forward.
The presence of Curtis, Leighton and Robbie James, David Giles and Jeremy Charles meant the team didn't lack attacking options, however, and they were also extremely easy on the eye.
Next came an incredible season in the first division. As late as the end of March the Swans were topping the First Division before a weak finish saw them end up in sixth place.
Curtis had a fine season, missing only two games and scoring ten goals but his personal highlight came immediately.
Swansea's opening fixture in the first division was a home game against Leeds United. The Swans demolished Alan Curtis's former club 5-1 after a stunning second half display which saw debutant Bob Latchford claim a hat trick.
No goal was sweeter to the home fans, or more galling to the visitors, however, than the rasping drive Curtis smashed into the top corner after a typical dart through the flailing Leeds midfield.
Swansea were unable to maintain this momentum, however, and suffered relegation the following season with Curtis again hampered by injury.
Then, in a farcical beginning to life back in division two, the team struggled, Toshack resigned, Curtis was sold to Southampton and Toshack was reappointed, all before Christmas.The season would end with the Swans relegated again.
Curtis was again unable to truly settle away from Swansea and, as at Leeds, he was not helped by niggling injury concerns.
In his second season at the Dell Curtis did manage to hold down a first team place with some regularity, operating as a schemer behind the strikers or out wide.
Now into his thirties, however, and losing the pace off the mark which had been such a potent weapon he was obliged to move back down the divisions with a move to Swansea's arch rivals Cardiff City.
There are not many people with links with Swansea City who can find a welcome at Ninian Park, and few people are more strongly linked with the Swans than Alan Curtis, but he managed to win over the Cardiff fans with his skill and obvious commitment.
It probably helped that the Bluebirds were at such a low ebb when he arrived, preparing, as they were, for their first season in the fourth division.
Curtis was a regular for the next three seasons and helped the club to promotion in the second of these.
With Cardiff in financial turmoil and struggling at the foot of the third division Curtis moved back to Swansea in October 1989 to see out the rest of his final season at his spiritual home, bowing out of football after the final day goalless draw with Bolton Wanderers.
Along the way Alan Curtis had been involved in several European campaigns courtesy of the Welsh Cup and he also participated in one UEFA Cup campaign with Southampton.
On top of this he won 35 caps for Wales over an eleven year period.
Despite this and his two spells in the first division with English clubs Curtis's star never truly shone with much brilliance outside of South Wales.
There were many moments of promise, he capped an impressive international debut with a goal against England , but they never really came together in a meaningful explosion.
His contribution to Welsh football in general and Swansea City in particular remains immense and widely recognised, however.
This was belatedly honoured when he was awarded a testimonial match which coincided with the opening of Swanseas' new stadium.
Although it is not clear whether the message of support received from Catherine Zeta-Jones on the occassion was for Alan Curtis's benefit or the stadiums surely Bonnie Tyler, actually present with a host of other stars, had always been a fan.
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