Swansea City was ‘as close to Brighton as I could get,’ says Carl Rushworth

The sky is the limit for Swansea City’s Carl Rushworth – a goalkeeper with unlimited potential destined for the very top of his profession, and the recipient of both the Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year award.

Calm, composed and humble, the 22-year-old Yorkshireman epitomises the levels of dedication and graft needed to succeed as a modern-day footballer playing at an elite level. 

In a season of ups and downs for the Swans in the EFL Championship, Rushworth has proven to be Mr Consistent, making a big impression in South Wales and keeping 10 clean sheets in the process.  

A ball-playing goalkeeper equally adept either with the ball at his feet or in hand, Rushworth’s dominating performances have seen him become the first name on the team sheet and a firm fan favourite.  

Swansea ‘was as close to Brighton as I could get’

From day one under former boss Michael Duff, the Brighton & Hove Albion loanee has played every minute of league action, making crucial saves and has later played a major part in the philosophy of current head-coach Luke Williams’ Swans side’s revival up the table.

‘One of the things I looked into about Swansea when I first came here was their style of play. It was as close to Brighton as I could get,’ says Rushworth. 

‘Everything to do with the players, the people and the backroom all coincides with Brighton so I feel it has been the perfect loan for me, especially now under the new gaffer bringing back that philosophy and playing out from the back using me as the spare man.’

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‘The gaffer now has been top. Everybody has bought it, and you can see that recently.’

‘It’s stuff I have seen at Brighton when I have been back playing in pre-season. It’s been good for me to be more confident on the ball and will help me in the long run.’

‘It’s been exactly how I wanted it to go: to play as many games as I have, and to keep progressing each week and learning every single game.’

Swans fans would first see the promise of their new number one’s growing maturity and ability first-hand in the 0-0 draw with Sunderland at the Swansea.com Stadium in October – Rushworth’s 100th senior career appearance. 

It would be an outstanding man-of-the-match performance to singlehandedly at times keep the home side in the game, after an early red card had seen the Swans reduced to ten men.  

A string of eye-catching saves has helped make the shot-stopper a firm favourite amongst the Jack Army ever since, and has been a factor culminating in the recognition by the club’s support as their player of the season – a feat Rushworth also achieved this time last year in his spell on loan at Lincoln City in League One.

Swansea City fans ‘have taken me under their wings’

‘I feel the appreciation of the fans,’ explained Rushworth. ‘My family come to a lot of my games and have spoken to them, and they have taken me under their wings.’

‘It’s really pleasing. The [Fans’ Player of the Year] award is just the cherry on the top.’

‘It is such a family-orientated club and I’ve loved having that backing from the fans from day one as well as from everybody here at the club. They all want me to do well and that has been so positive for me.’

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The goalkeeper identified two fixtures as the highlights of his Swansea career, starting with ‘Cardiff at home because of the atmosphere. It is the biggest game on the fixture list and is my best highlight.’ 

‘I also really enjoyed playing Sunderland at home as well. It was 0-0 but I had a really good game,’ he added.

Interest from Brighton ‘was a bit of a shock to the system’

Rushworth, like many other young professionals within the game, has had to come through periods of uncertainty.

The Swans‘ recent victory over Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium had an extra sense of satisfaction for the England under-21 international, as he reflected on one of his most difficult experiences as a footballer and how that led to shaping his future. 

‘I started my career at Huddersfield, and it didn’t work out. That’s why it was such a good memory for me to win 4-0,’ reflects Rushworth. 

‘It’s always been football for me as my main priority. I liked other sports but nothing too seriously. I couldn’t imagine what I would have been doing if I wasn’t playing.’

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After being released by Huddersfield Town as a youngster at the age of 16, having played through the age grade levels with the Terriers, Rushworth was offered a lifeline by Halifax Town. 

The Shaymen, a club based 15-minutes away from Rushworth’s home, plied their trade in the lower echelons of non-league football and saw potential in the stopper, offering him a place in their youth set-up. 

It was there that at the tender age of 17, Rushworth was spotted by talent scouts for Arsenal, Brighton and Manchester United. 

‘When I played for Halifax, we played Sunderland in the FA Youth Cup,’ explains Rushworth.  

‘The agent that I have now got in touch with me and said ‘I want you to focus on the game, but there is some interest in you’.’

‘It was a bit of a shock to the system, but once I went down to Brighton it was a no-brainer when I saw the facilities and I’ve been there ever since.’

Shannon Ruth ‘became like a Dad’ after Brighton move

Joining the Seagulls, a club on the rise and managed by ex-Swans boss Graham Potter, on the South Coast would be the first of many moves for the determined young Northerner as he looked to gain crucial experience and development throughout the different levels of the football pyramid.  

The unseen sacrifices and anxieties of changing clubs and living away from home for the first time were tough at first for Rushworth, but the support of his family and that from his youth coach at Brighton at the time played a big part in helping him settle into his new surroundings. 

‘There have been loads of coaches that have shaped my career. One that sits with me most is Shannon Ruth, because he was the one that brought me to Brighton,’ says Rushworth. 

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‘That was when I was 17 and moved away from home for the first time, and he became like a dad. He was always checking up on me and making sure that I was OK. He helped me develop and made sure that I had the best chance on the pitch.’

‘It will always stick with me that he helped me when times were tough living miles away from home.’ 

‘It can be very stressful sorting out where you are going to live,’ admits the goalkeeper. ‘There’s been a lot of different journeys up and down the country and none of them seem to be any closer to home.’

‘It’s been a blessing though to experience these different scenarios that you fall into in football. I try to take it all in my stride – once I have settled in and got my accommodation sorted and met the lads and staff, I start to focus on my football and try to play my best every week.’

Playing for England ‘has always been my target’

So, what’s next for one of England’s brightest prospects, who will no doubt have many admirers come the summer?

‘To play for England and [in] the Premier League have always been my targets,’ enthuses Rushworth. 

‘It was good to be part of the [England under-21] group. The squad was mainly full of Premier League players. It’s always been the dream for me [to get a full cap] since I was a little boy.’

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‘I always try to have my own personal targets like to play as many games as I can in a season, stay injury-free and try to beat my clean sheet tally of the season before.’

‘Once it gets to the end of the season, I will sit back and see how the season went. I will take a breath, relax and then I will have the conversations as to what the plan will be [for the next season].’

‘At the moment, I don’t know where I will be – whether I will be at Brighton or anywhere else. I might even be here – you never know with football, that is the beauty of it.’


Response

  1. Geoff Morton

    What a fantastic keeper Rushie turned out to be for us . . Helpoed us gain points on many occasions when we were under the cosh and great to know that we had a Kepper that we could really rely upon. Hopefully we may be lucky enough to get him back again next Season so we can have the benefit of his talent and he can benefit from plying his skills under “Marge” the England Goalkeeping Coach who is with us at Swansea.
    Whatever the outcome, and hopefully he’ll be back with us, I for one wish him well and will certainly see his name in lights in the not too ditant future. Certainly one to watch.

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