Age: 25 years old.
Current club: Caernarfon Town.
Former Clubs: Everton, Caernarfon Town, Torquay United and Dorchester.
BEING from North Wales, I know for a fact that you have to be an extremely talented footballer to make it out of these parts as so many gifted youngsters never make it to the top. However, Nathan Craig is the exception to this rule.
The Cofi-born midfielder broke popular beliefs around the area that North Walian footballers never made it in football, when he signed for Everton at the age of just 12 years old.
I remember as a teenager at school, everyone who loved football used to talk about him and knew of him because, simply put, he was an example to all young players from these neck of the woods.
After progressing through the clubs ranks, he became a regular in the Under-18s during the 2008/09 season. His versatility down the left flank and set-piece delivery saw him progress to Everton’s reserves in the 2009/2010. After much hard work and dedication, Craig made his competitive first-team debut against BATE Borisov in a UEFA Europa League match in December 2009.
By 2011, a then 20 year old Craig decided to return home to his boyhood club of Caernarfon and impressed his local fans, scoring 5 times in 17 appearances. A year later, he was off again to Torquay, but it was not the last he would see of his hometown.
He played 47 times in a two year period at Torquay and also played a handful of games on loan at Dorchester. In 2014, Following the clubs relegation to the Conference Craig requested to have his contract mutually terminated. They club granted his wish and he was once again about to return to The Oval.
Since 2014, he has enjoyed a fruitful spell back in the Canaries squad that continues to push for a return to the Welsh Premier League. He was voted the Huws Gray Alliance’s Player of the Season at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
He has established himself as a firm fans favourite amongst everyone connected to Caernarfon Town FC, earning the captaincy and scoring 33 times in 72 appearances so far for the club.
The former under 21 Wales international is also a fluent Welsh speaker and recently answered some of AFEFootballNews’ questions. Here’s what he had to say …
AFE: What was it like making your first team debut for Everton against BATE Borisov back in 2008?
NC: It was a great feeling to make my Everton debut in the Europa League at such a young age.
I think it was even more special as it was at Goodison Park.
AFE: Who were the biggest and most recognisable names in the academy alongside you at that time?
NC: There were quite a few big names there during that time.
Jack Rodwell, Dan Gosling, Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan were all older than me. Hope Akpan, Shkodran Mustafi, Shane Duffy, Adam Forshaw, Eric Dier and I were all the same age and Ross Barkley was a year below us in the academy.
AFE: You’ve also played for Wales at under 21, under 19 and under 17 levels. Who was the best player you played against/alongside during those times?
NC: I played alongside the likes of Joe Allen, Neil Taylor, Simon Church and Hal Robson Kanu and played against the likes of Kevin Prince Boateng.
AFE: Upon returning to Caernarfon after leaving Everton, were you glad to be back playing for your home town again?
NC: Yes it felt good to back and to be enjoying my football again.
Of course, it was an added bonus as well that I was able to play for my hometown club once again.
NC: I would have to say that the highlight for was the 1-0 win away to our local rivals Bangor in the Word Cup as we only had nine player fit and available that day so it was quite the achievement.
AFE: Manager Iwan Williams gets a lot of praise for his work at the club. How has he helped you as a player?
NC: Yeah he’s a top Manager.
He is very professional in his job and the amount of time he puts in to trainings and match days is just unbelievable!
AFE: Finally, what are the Canaries aims for the season ahead now?
NC: We all know its going to be a tough season as the league gets tougher and tougher each year.
With the likes of Rhyl and Airbus in there now and of course Flint, Denbigh and Porthmadog it really could be anyone’s title!
We’ve been working hard during the first couple weeks of pre season so hopefully we will take that in to our first game away to Penrhyncoch.
Thanks for chatting to AFEFootballNews Nathan and all the best to you and the Canaries in the Huws Gray Alliance this year!