Leon Britton believes his 500th Swansea City appearance against Sunderland on Wednesday night will come in one of the club’s biggest games for years.
Britton was part of the Swans side which escaped relegation from the Football League by beating Hull on the final day of the 2002-03 season.
And the 33-year-old midfielder had no hesitation in stressing the importance of Wednesday’s Liberty Stadium showdown, with only four points separating Swansea and Sunderland in the Premier League.
“This is right up there with anything going back over a number of years,” Britton said.
“We have never really been close to relegation – we have always had a little gap. But right now we are halfway through the season and one place above the drop.
“It is dangerous and your home games against sides who are below you and want to catch you are massive. A win would give us some breathing room.”
Britton’s time at Swansea seemed over last summer when previous manager Garry Monk gave him permission to talk to other clubs.
But Britton chose to stay and is now looking forward to coming up against Sunderland striker and his old West Ham youth team-mate, Jermain Defoe.
“I tested the water in America, but it was their mid-season window and with salary caps and franchise players it was not straightforward,” Britton said.
“I had offers to go into the Championship too, but I did not want to go down a level as I felt I could still do it in the Premier League.
“I’m still in touch with Jermain as we were in school at Lilleshall together and joined West Ham at the same time as expensive teenagers.
“I spoke to him the other day and asked him if he could stop scoring before he plays us.
“But he just laughed – I think if his mum asked him to stop scoring he wouldn’t because he loves it so much!”