GERHARD Tremmel spent years in Germany peering enviously at the Premier League.
For more than a decade the goalkeeper played in his homeland and over the border in Austria where he represented Redbull Salzburg for a season.
Tremmel made his debut for Unterhaching, a semi-professional side on the outskirts of Munich, in 1998 after a colourful youth career that included spells at Bavarian giants Bayern and 1860 Munich.
As a professional he went on to represent Bundesliga outfits Hannover 96, Hertha Berlin and second-tier Cottbus before moving to Salzburg.
But the self-confessed English football fan always had ambitions to test himself on these shores.
"I was always a fan of English football, I was always looking to come over here," said Tremmel.
"We have a great atmosphere in Germany as well, but it's different here.
"In Germany you have the fan base that is always singing and the rest who are just watching.
"Over here everyone is a fan of the club and they are all involved in the game.
"I watched the Schalke v Arsenal game the other night and it was so boring. There were times when it was just silent — that never happens here. I love it"
Tremmel had been following British football for years and heard whispers of Premier League interest, but nothing concrete.
"I never supported anyone, but I looked over and liked the traditional clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United," he said.
"Aston Villa are not doing so well over the last ten years, but they're another massive, traditional club.
"There were rumours about clubs watching me, one was Blackburn and one was Aston Villa, but I'm not sure if that was true.
"There were things in the newspapers but I didn't want my agent phoning me up every five minutes about it."
Then in the summer of 2011 he was invited for a trial by Brendan Rodgers, who had just taken Swansea into the top flight.
Swansea had released former Chelsea stopper Yves Ma-Kalambay and run the rule over other keepers without offering any a contract.
Tremmel made more of an impact. He impressed in friendlies against Celtic and Real Betis and signed a two-year deal in August of that year.
"I said to a German newspaper that joining Swansea was the best decision that I've ever made. I don't regret anything," he said.
"Apart from being on the bench, which is always frustrating, I just enjoyed being here.
"Every training session, the language and the mentality, it was an absolutely great decision.
"We had a great team spirit at other clubs, but this is special."
Tremmel immediately gelled with players off the pitch who joked that he was related to Garry Monk because of his resemblance to Swansea's club captain.
But he found joining in on a matchday more difficult.
Swansea had also signed Michel Vorm in a £1.5 million deal from Utrecht that summer.
The Dutchman was installed as Rodgers first choice and his outstanding performances made him hard to shift.
"When the jokes came up about me and my brother Garry I was, like, it must be right here. This must be the place," said Tremmel.
"There was no jealousy of Michel, he deserved it from my point of view.
"But you are not involved emotionally when you are on the bench.
"On the pitch you can change things, it is a different feeling.
"When you have a great win you are part of it and overwhelmed by it, but if you sit on the bench it's very difficult."
Tremmel had played a handful of cup games and featured once in the Premier League before his big break came a fortnight ago.
Vorm was stretchered off at the Etihad Stadium after injuring himself trying to stop Carlos Tevez's goal for Manchester City and Tremmel had to play the last half an hour.
From a watching brief, Tremmel was thrust into the heat of battle against Roberto Mancini's megastars. And then there were games against Liverpool and Chelsea the following week.
"I did not have time to think about any match," he said. "I came on against City. I could not really prepare for that and once Liverpool finished Chelsea was ahead.
"Against Man City I didn't have anything to do, it was strange. Once you come on from the bench you are not in it, you can't say you are prepared for situations like that.
"Once it was over I focused on Liverpool and I had been preparing for that anyway as it was a cup game and I thought I might play.
"My routine started again on Tuesday, I could not sleep well on Sunday and Monday because my head was just thinking about the Liverpool and Chelsea games.
"You are replaying the game in your head. I have to do that to use it to help me for the next time in terms of what I could do better."
Despite the disruption of losing Vorm, and Chico Flores in the second half against Liverpool, Swansea's defence has stood firm.
Monk has come in along with the keeper to join a back four that also contains teenager Ben Davies.
Swansea didn't concede again to City after Tremmel's introduction and were breached only once by both Liverpool and Chelsea.
Michael Laudrup's side progressed into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup with a 3-1 victory at Anfield before holding the Champions League winners to a 1-1 draw last weekend.
Next they face a Southampton side rooted to the bottom of the table after recording just one Premier League win so far this season.
No-one has conceded more top-flight goals than the Saints this term, but they also tend to register at the other end.
Nigel Adkins's side have netted in all but two of their league games this season so Tremmel can expect to come under fire today.
Not that he'll complain too much about being called upon after 14 months of inactivity.
"I think the defence is getting back to its best, maybe I am helping," he smiled.
"I'm not thinking about what happens when Michel comes back — I'm just enjoying playing at the moment."