From Swansea setback to England international – Marc Guehi has come a long way

Marc Guehi is aiming to be England’s ‘Steady Eddie’ after overcoming doubts during a loan stint at Swansea to become a regular in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

The Crystal Palace centre-back, 23, has seven senior caps and has featured in three of the previous four games ahead of the final Euro 2024 qualification double-header against Malta and North Macedonia.

Having come through the ranks at Chelsea, where he credits Claude Makelele as a mentor, Guehi never made a Premier League appearance for the Blues but is now a fixture in the division in south London.

Guehi was also capped at every England age group from Under-16s upwards until making his senior debut last year.

Asked how he has dealt with every step up in his career, Guehi replied: “The trait is, that in my life everything has been quite steady. Growing up I was never pushed on too soon, or left behind.

“It was always quite steady and my career has been exactly the same. In the academy, going out on loan, steadily playing game after game and gaining confidence. Getting the move to Palace and finding my feet in the Premier League and now coming here with England.

“So when you talk about those steps and progression, everything for me has been quite natural. I just see things how they are and take things how they come.

Guehi singled out a loan spell at Swansea as a time when he struggled
Marc Guehi singled out a loan spell at Swansea as a time when he struggled (Tim Goode/PA)

“When I said about the steadiness, along that pathway there is those setbacks. I think it’s your job as an individual to just learn from those as quickly as possible. And not allow them to drag you from behind.

“There’s been many setbacks and always will be. It’s about learning from them and using those moments to prove yourself.”

The main setback for Guehi was during his time on loan at Swansea, a move which coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic that shut down football for over three months during the 2019/20 season.

Guehi was away from home and had fallen out of favour in the Swansea team, not featuring in the final four matchday squads before football was halted – although he returned to get back into the side before spending another campaign on loan at the Liberty Stadium.

“Not many people know, it was tough for me at Swansea,” he said.

“I have not spoken about it, everyone thinks it was plain sailing, great. I played the first four games and then I didn’t play up until after lockdown. Being away from home, in Swansea, different country, on your own, there’s going to be challenges, going to be tough.

“Those moments were difficult, you take those moments, learn from them, try to move on and put them right. I was just out of favour. Not anything in particular. I came from Chelsea, came with a lot of confidence, and my confidence almost gets knocked.

“Thankfully, I did get back home, just in time before (lockdown), it was so strange to say it, for so many people around the world it was horrible, for my family, and so many people around.

“For me, it was probably the best moment, I could get away from football, be with my family, and just focus on myself. How can I now if football does come back – thankfully football did come back – if we do get back to playing, how can I get back in this team?

Guehi's form at Crystal Palace has helped him become a regular in England squads
Guehi’s form at Crystal Palace has helped him become a regular in England squads (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

“I genuinely enjoyed Swansea. It was good. Swansea was a great place for me to play. I had a great view from an apartment looking out onto the beach although it was not sunny but it was still a decent view.”

Guehi, who plays drums at his church when time allows and whose father is a pastor, has used setbacks such as his experiences in south Wales, to build a stronger mentality.

“It is like building calluses but in your mind,” he added.

“Going through those moments does help you in everyday life, everyday situations. You might have a bad game but you remember what you’ve gone through before, and you almost put that to bed and go I just need to prove myself the next game. Moving steadily.”