When Wrexham were pulling off cup shocks against the likes of Arsenal and West Ham United in the early Nineties, Gareth Owen was a key figure in the Dragons' midfield. After a dozen years and over 300 Football League appearances, Owen finished his professional playing career at Doncaster Rovers.
Gareth's career has now come full circle, he's returned to North Wales as Football Development Officer with Flintshire County Council. One of his key roles is to develop women's football in the region.
"It's the fastest growing sport in Wales at the moment. We had a festival recently, and 300 primary school age girls attended.
"The senior women's game is pushing on and we've also got a futsal team. There are probably more girls than ever playing both forms of the game at the moment."
Gareth's role is all encompassing, and takes on even more importance in a region now deprived of a Football League club. In their heyday Wrexham attracted five-figure crowds, Owen hopes he is planting the seeds for success in the not too distant future.
"I've been in the role for three years now, and the chief aims are development and getting as many 6 to 16 year old boys and girls playing the game.
"I also work on player development geared towards regional squads, which then feed to the national squads. We've got a lot of good boys and girls coming through, particularly in the age group that I am working with."
Although he never won a full cap with Wales, Owen picked up eight under-21 caps and collected one 'B' international cap. He hopes he can look back proudly in a few years on his role in developing fresh Welsh talent.
"It's a process I have obviously been through myself, so it's nice to work with them and help them develop.
"To see somebody make it is the icing on the cake. There will be something wrong if a number of the players I am working with at the moment don't make it in the professional game. Some should go on and definitely represent their country."
Owen combines his day job with a part-time career at Rhyl, a remarkable achievement considering he will turn 40 later in the year. His extended career has seen him lock horns with the likes of Partizan Belgrade in the Champions League last season, since then financial problems have seen the North Wales outfit relegated from the Welsh Premier League.
"I'm still trying to play and enjoy training hard two times a week. Unfortunately I haven't been involved in the last few months because the lads have been doing well and there is no need to tinker with a winning team. It won't be too long before the boots are hung up, but I've hopefully still got a couple of years left in me yet!"
If Gareth was in any doubt about continuing playing, his appetite has been whetted by some of the footage he has seen again in recent weeks. The romance of the FA Cup evokes particularly fond memories for anybody who pulled on a Wrexham shirt in the early nineties.
"It's been a pleasure seeing Mickey Thomas's goal against Arsenal, and to think that I was stood on the same pitch as him at the time! That memory will live with me until the day I die, it's great that people still want to talk about it.
"It was also a dream come true to play Manchester United in my testimonial. For as long as I can remember I had wanted to be Bryan Robson or Frank Stapleton. To have a game in front of 13,000 people against them, with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs there, was unbelievable."
Whilst Gareth Owen's playing heyday is now behind him he continues to create legacies on a daily basis in North Wales football. He hopes the dividends will eventually pay dividends for a Wrexham side he still talks fondly of.
"Dean Saunders has done a great job and I just hope as a fan that they are soon back in the Football League."
If the Robins do eventually regain their league status, Gareth Owen hopes he can play a part in supplying some of the Racecourse Ground's heroes of the future.
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