18 in our top 25 Players List, goalkeeper Roger Freestone.
Roger Freestone was born on August 19th 1968 in Caerleon near Newport and he began his footballing career at local side Newport County as a trainee before joining Premiership giants Chelsea in 1987 for a £85,000 fee.
He made his League debut for the Blues when he was 18 years old, in a 1-1 draw against QPR around a month after joining Chelsea. It was John Hollins who signed him, and he later worked with Hollins again at Swansea City.
He spent 4 years at Stamford Bridge and during that time he had loan spells with Hereford United and Swansea City.
He joined us at the Vetch Field permanently in 1991 when Frank Burrows signed him up for £45,000, and Rog enjoyed a long 13-year spell with the Swans, becoming a massive favourite amongst the fans for his loyalty, personality and goalkeeping ability and is currently second in the all-time players list of appearances for the club.
His commitment to the club is unquestionable and you won’t find a Swansea City fan who has a bad word against the popular shot stopper.
Freestone was particularly impressive at shot-stopping and his confidence and ability at crosses and set pieces and his consistency meant he was more than capable of playing at a far higher level than he did with the Swans, but he turned down attractive moves to bigger clubs to stay a Jack throughout his professional career.
The 40 year-old made 656 appearances in a Swansea shirt, and despite being a goalkeeper, he scored 3 goals, all from the penalty spot. He also holds the club record for the most number of clean sheets held in a season – 22 in our Division 3 title winning season in 1999/2000.
His performances for the Swans saw him win his first and only Welsh international cap in the friendly against Brazil at the Millenium Stadium, it was an excellent and proud performance from Rog, but Wales lost the match 3-0.
Roger Freestone was awarded a testimonial match in May 2003 against his former club Chelsea at the Vetch Field and rightfully so but the way in which he left Swansea City angered a lot of fans. Then-manager Kenny Jackett said he made a tough choice in releasing Roger Freestone, and the supporters felt they missed an opportunity to give a proper send-off that he deserved for his contribution.
Roger experienced some tough times at the Vetch Field, the club was struggling when the likes of Mike Lewis and Tony Petty were in charge. Wages weren’t being paid and he could have easily have left and joined a bigger club on much better money, but he was a very rare example of loyalty in the game.
Claim to Fame:
Roger’s highlights would be an excellent switch to the Blues at the age of just 18 and making two excellent saves against Derby and Mancheester United respectively in the FA Cup. Another would be winning his first cap for Wales against Brazil and his superb 13-year commitment to the club, where he will always be regarded as a Swansea City Legend.
After Swansea City…
After leaving the Swans in 2004, he returned to Newport County, where he began his career but recurring injury problems meant he had to retire shortly afterwards.
He also had a short spell of management with the Swans, assisting Nick Cusack briefly in 2002.
Roger has also played in Masters Football which is shown on Sky Sports for the Chelsea side. In June 2009 he featured in the London Masters featuring PR, Fulham, Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham. Chelsea lost to QPR in the Semi Final.
Frank Burrows on Roger Freestone:
‘Possessing a wonderful character to have in the dressing room, he has a great sense of humour and the team spirit created was mainly due to him.’
‘Many people have said to me how much they have enjoyed their football supporting life here at Swansea City, and I feel quite embarrassed when supporters of this great club talk about me alongside such greats as John Toshack, Curt, Charlo, Robbie James, and the Allchurch brothers.’
‘It really should be me saying thank you to you, the loudest most passionate fans I have ever encountered in my playing career.’
‘I have never felt such emotion for Swansea City as I have over the past few years, and the awful things that some people have tried to do to our club. I am and always will be a Swansea City fan, no matter how my future stands this is the only place where my football heart will ever be. You, the fans and my fellow players and colleagues here at The Vetch Field have made the last 12 years the best I could ever have wished for. Your support and friendship has meant more to me than almost anything, that friendship has made me want to give you all I can on the field of play.’
‘Swansea till i die.’
Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk
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Links to the Top 25 Players:
25 – Chris Coleman
24 – John Cornforth
23 – Dean Saunders
22 – Lee Trundle
21 – John Toshack
20 – Harry Griffiths
19 – Nigel Stevenson