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Swansea City on the up after landing a first big prize

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 26, 2013

Swans at Wembley
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THE 'Roll of Honour' page on Swansea City's website is not exactly a tale of endless glory.

The Division Three South wins of 1925 and 1949 both feature prominently, for instance, as does the League One title success of 2008.

Seven seasons are listed alongside the European Cup Winners' Cup. These are not victories, of course, just campaigns where Swansea have been involved in continental competition.

Their last European tie? A 10-1 aggregate defeat by Monaco which, considering Swansea were then a third-tier club, was hardly surprising.

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There are more enjoyable football 'honours' to be had.

Like Sunday, for instance, which was the day when Swansea finally pulled up a chair at English football's top table.

In 101 years, Swansea had never won one of football's top trophies.

Their greatest prize? There were a couple of Football League Trophies, and a handful of lower-league titles.

Now Swansea must make room for the Capital One Cup trophy, one of the grandest pots in the domestic game.

Okay, so the Premier League — particularly — and the FA Cup carry more significance, but the League Cup is one of the three biggest trophies in the land.

It is a competition every club in the top flight would like to win, even the heavyweights who sometimes turn to back-up players when it comes around.

Look at the list of victors in the past ten years — Manchester United (three times), Chelsea (twice), Liverpool and Tottenham all feature.

Arsene Wenger would love to get his hands on the League Cup, just like Newcastle United, Swansea's opponents in the Premier League.

The Toon are billed as one of the biggest clubs in the country because of their fanbase, yet they have not won a major domestic trophy since 1955.

Swansea are now rubbing shoulders with the big boys, competing for the medals that matter on the most celebrated stage.

Michael Laudrup has raised a few eyebrows by stating all along that victory in this competition would surpass the succession of great days he has enjoyed in a spectacular career.

What it shows is that though he has only been Swansea's manager for a little over eight months, he has very quickly got to grips with the history of this club.

At Barcelona Real Madrid and Juventus, at Ajax and at Brondby — at least when Laudrup was there — you are expected to win trophies every year.

At a club like Swansea, the memory of landing just one piece of silverware will be treasured forever.

"Six or seven years ago, winning a trophy seemed like an impossible dream," says Angel Rangel.

"Sunday was special."

Rangel has been a Swansea player for six years, so he is well qualified to comment on the club's shift from the shadows to the spotlight.

The Spanish right-back joined Swansea when they were a League One club, so had missed out on the really dark days.

It has been an extraordinary journey from the foot of League Two, one which has been masterminded by Huw Jenkins and company in the Swansea boardroom.

Laudrup, who came to Wales because of the club's solid footballing principles, reckons good work by Swansea's owners has been central to their success.

"There is a philosophy at this club that's been here for six or seven years," Laudrup says.

"That makes things easier, because every time the manager changes, they look for the same kind of players.

"That's very important. You see some clubs where the manager changes, the new man has a whole new idea and he changes four or five players straightaway.

"But that's not the case here because of the philosophy of the club.

"And on top of that, the club is strong financially.

"At the end of the season this club has black figures, and it's not very often you see that in modern football."

The bank balance looks a little healthier this year on the back of Swansea's League Cup success.

There is now a little more cash in the pot for what should be an interesting summer, with Laudrup convinced his squad will be a stronger after another transfer window's work.

It needs to be, too.

Once again, Swansea will set out next term with the primary goal of staying in the Premier League.

On top of that, they will also be facing a first European campaign — scheduled to start on August 1 — in more than two decades, and the first ever they have earned via the English qualification route.

"It's one of those things I thought we would never experience — but now we're going to be there," Rangel adds. "We'll see how well we can do next season.

"It's a fantastic achievement, winning a trophy and getting into Europe.

"We have a great group of players and a great manager, and everyone's so happy."

Rangel's mood reflects that of a whole club right now, for Swansea City have never had it so good.

The Capital One Cup holders can refocus on the Premier League now, and on trying to improve on last season's 11th-place finish by ending up in the top ten.

And then comes a whole new adventure in 2013-14, another step up for a club who remain on the rise.

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