Pulis hails 'inspirational' Walters
Stoke manager Tony Pulis feels Potters forward Jon Walters is an inspiration to players lower down the football ladder.
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19. Jon Walters
After failing to establish himself at Blackburn or Bolton early in his career, Walters moved on to Hull, Wrexham and then Chester, where a fruitful spell earned him a transfer to Ipswich in 2007.
His good form continued at Portman Road and in 2010 he was recruited by Stoke for an initial fee of £2.75million.
He has since developed into a firm fans' favourite at the Britannia Stadium - as well as breaking into the Republic of Ireland team - and last weekend's home clash with Chelsea was the 73rd consecutive Barclays Premier League match the 29-year-old has started.
It was not a happy occasion, with Stoke hammered 4-0 and Walters incredibly scoring two own goals and missing a penalty.
However, he swiftly recovered and scored twice at the right end in Tuesday's 4-1 FA Cup third-round replay victory against Crystal Palace, prompting Pulis to speak about the player's "British bulldog spirit."
"He has been a great signing for this football club," Pulis said. "His attitude and application is absolutely first class and I think he is an inspiration to players at the lower level who are young enough but have not quite made it to the top, in respect of keeping going and trying.
"He got released as a young player, dropped down the divisions, ended up at Chester at one stage, and from that point onwards his career turned completely on its head.
"He has climbed and now he has played 73 consecutive games for us in the Premier League. He has been a dream. Everything about the kid is first class.
"The mixture between what we want as a football club and what Jon gives us is absolutely perfect."
Walters is set to extend his record to 74 on Saturday when 10th-placed Stoke take on ninth-placed Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
The Welsh side's impressive progress - they were promoted from the third tier in 2008, from the Championship in 2011 and finished 11th in the top flight last season - has shown no sign of letting up this term following the appointment of manager Michael Laudrup as successor to Brendan Rodgers over the summer.
Welshman Pulis is delighted to see the Swans continue to thrive under Laudrup, and feels it is important to acknowledge the work of those who held the Dane's post before him.
"Swansea have been absolutely fabulous this year," Pulis said.
"I think when Brendan left there was a lot of people thinking 'This is all going to fall in', but with consecutive managers - and we have to go back to Kenny Jackett because I think he sometimes gets forgotten - they have kept the thing going and actually improved on it.
"You had Kenny, Roberto (Martinez, with Paulo Sousa then taking over for one season), Brendan and now Michael, who has been absolutely fantastic in what he has done."
After the Stoke contest, Swansea host Chelsea on Wednesday night in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.
The Swans have a 2-0 lead from the first leg and Pulis has no doubts about how eager they will be to finish the job and secure a place in a Wembley final for their fans, particularly after Cardiff did so in 2008.
He said: "Cardiff got to an FA Cup final a few years ago, so Swansea will be absolutely desperate to try to take their supporters to Wembley. It will be fabulous for them."