The world is inundated with images of celebration among the football players of Leicester on the occasion of the sensational winning of the title of the English champion. It is less known that Swansea made almost the same feat 34 years ago.
In the era of Internet, satellite and cable television, everyone knows that Swansea City is a Welsh club which successfully performs in the English Premier League. However, in late 1970s Swansea was a club which languished in the fourth English league before John Toshack was appointed the manager of the club on March 1, 1978. With his arrival, the ascent of a minor club suddenly starts and the club rises to higher ranks of competition.
In the summer of 1980, Swansea already made it to the Division Two when Toshack, for the first time in the club history, brings a player from the continental part of Europe.
That player was Džemal “Čorba” Hadžiabdić, the legendary back of Velež and Yugoslav national team player who had nine seasons behind him and a grief for never winning the title of the champion of the former state.
Thanks to amazing performances, Hadžiabdić soon became one of the favorites among the fans of Swansea, who called him Jimmy, and made Toshack go to the central republic of the former Yugoslavia for another reinforcement, several months later.
Toshack arrived in Sarajevo and, for respectable 100 thousand pounds at that time, engaged the center half of the FC Sarajevo, Ante Rajković. Career of the popular Antara seemed to be descending when he joined Hadžiabdić in Swansea in January 1981.
Although Rajković got injured in the match against Bristol City in March 1981, in the continuation of the season the BiH tandem ensured another “promotion” of the best Welsh club.
Swansea ends on the third position of the Division Two and puts an end to the incredible series of passing four ranks of competition in five seasons.
In the season 1981/1982, Swansea debuts in the Division One (present Premiership) as the first Welsh club in the best rank of English football after 20 years.
When Liverpool fell on Vetch Field on February 16 (2:0), and eleven days later Arsenal as well on Highbury, another one of the greatest sensations in the history of English football seemed to be coming. That sensation might have been even bigger that this year’s fairytale of Leicester.