Wembley Stadium will be rocking on Sunday when Swansea City and Bradford City do battle for glory in this season’s Capital One Cup Final.
Ahead of the big day, we sat down with Swans winger Nathan Dyer to see how he’s feeling.
Hi Nathan, what emotions are you going through ahead of the club’s first ever major cup final?
We’re a little bit nervous as you might expect, but the overriding feeling is one of excitement. Our build-up didn’t quite go according to plan with a heavy defeat at Anfield on Sunday but we’ve quickly picked ourselves up from that, and now we’re just looking forward to what should be a brilliant day.
Michael Laudrup took you away for a sunshine break in Dubai last week – how did that go?
It was a really good idea. It was just so nice to wake up in the morning and put on a t-shirt and shorts rather than a coat, hat and gloves. It was lovely to see a bit of sun, but it wasn’t a holiday. The manager took our time there very seriously and we trained hard every day. Going to Dubai wasn’t about having a rest. It was a change of scenery but the aim was to keep us sharp.
Is the city of Swansea buzzing?
It absolutely is. There’s a really good buzz and the fans can’t wait to cheer us on at Wembley. So many supporters have stopped me to tell me they’ve got their tickets, and you can see how much it means to them. I’ve got to say there’s a good feeling in the camp, and we’re determined not to let them down.
Do you think playing, and winning, at Wembley in the 2011 Play-Off Final has made you less apprehensive for this match?
I do think it’s helped us actually. The prospect of walking out at Wembley Stadium isn’t anywhere near as overwhelming as it felt before, and even though we played well that day against Reading I do remember feeling much more nervous before kick-off than I do now. The team is relaxed, because we know what it’s like to handle a big match there.
Did you ever see your manager Michael Laudrup play when you were a kid? He wasn’t bad you know…
It’s funny because when he was appointed, right away a lot of the lads who are old enough were talking about him as a player and remembering what he and his brother were like. I must confess we all got straight onto the internet to see his best clips the minute we knew he was coming to Swansea. He was an amazing footballer, the Zinedine Zidane of his era. He’s still got it, too. Whenever he joins in with us in training his tricks, touch and vision is quality. He shows us up really.
How has Michael Laudrup improved the Swansea side this season?
He’s given us more of an attacking threat. As a player he was direct and loved to thread balls through to the front players, so he preaches to us that if we see that pass, we have to have the confidence to play it. I think everyone can see that we’re creating more chances and scoring more goals this season, and for attacking players like myself that’s ideal. We’re definitely more potent.
Being such an attractive footballing side, is it a lot of fun playing for a club like Swansea?
It is such a great team to play for. As professionals you just want to enjoy your football, to be able to go out there and play with expression and freedom and in the last five years no matter which manager we've had, that philosophy has remained the same. I’m loving it so much. All of us are encouraged to get on the ball and make things happen, and to play in a team where that’s encouraged so much is refreshing.
Can you believe that Michu only cost £2million?
What a bargain. It’s crazy to think how many goals he’s scored this year, as almost every opportunity that’s fallen his way has been despatched properly. He’s been ruthless in front of goal, and we can’t argue that he hasn’t done wonders for us.
Is he a good lad?
Yes, he’s a nice bloke, too. All the new Spanish players are good people, and because they know a lot of English they haven’t had any problems at all settling in. It’s a different culture for Michu and the others but they’ve mixed in with the rest of us seamlessly.
Going back to the Final, isn’t it daunting to be such huge favourites?
It’s a strange feeling to be described as strong favourites, but we won’t be taking anything for granted because anything can go wrong on the day. We will give the same respect to Bradford City as we would to any other team we were facing, not least because they’ve beaten bigger and better sides than us to reach Wembley. You can be sure that Swansea won’t be taking them lightly, and that we won’t turn up thinking it’s in the bag. We’ll be on our game.
So, there’s no added pressure because you’re expected to win?
As a team we’re genuinely not feeling pressured by that tag. If everyone thinks we’re going to win, that’s up to them, but we’re focussing on a major cup final and are excited about it. The way we look at it is this; if we play to our best, we should be OK.
Have you been to a major cup final before?
No, I haven’t even been to watch one as a fan. I remember being a youngster coming through at Southampton when they reached the FA Cup Final but even then I watched it on TV. This will be my first experience of it as a player or a fan.
Have you been studying Bradford City hard in the build-up?
So far, no we haven’t. Up until now we’ve solely been focussing on our training and our own set-up. The preparation hasn’t been different than for any other game. That said, we will be looking closer at Bradford the nearer we get to kick-off.
Did you watch their victories over Arsenal and Aston Villa?
I missed the Arsenal match, but I did see them beat Villa in the semi-final and I was impressed. They have a major, major threat from set pieces, and you don’t have to be an expert to realise that’s where a lot of their focus will be. Before the game we’ll be doing plenty of homework and discussing how we’re going to combat that danger they present from free-kicks and corners. That’s not all they have though. The likes of Nahki Wells and James Hanson are forwards who are good enough to make a difference if they get the right service.
Do you think it’s easier for Bradford City’s players to be relaxed about the Final?
I’m not sure, but they haven’t looked like a side that’s intimidated by Premier League opposition so I don’t think they will be fearing us too much. Bradford have nothing to lose and for that reason I can see how they might be enjoying it. They’ll see it as a once in a lifetime chance, so they’ll give it their all and hope for the best.
Some people are saying this is a ‘friendly final’ where the neutrals don’t mind who wins. Can you see that?
I can see why it’s being said but it’s different for the two clubs involved. For us, it’s very competitive and the fans of both teams will be in full voice, desperate to win the Capital One Cup. I know that Bradford will be loud, but I’ll never forget the noise our fans made in the Play-Off Final which was incredible. I’m expecting more of the same.
Have you got new suits for the occasion?
We won’t be going to Wembley in white suits, ha ha! We have a Swansea club suit for the season and I believe we’re wearing those, but with a special cup final tie to make it look and feel a little bit different.
Good luck for Sunday...
Thank you. We can’t wait for the match to start.