WEDNESDAY new boy Leroy Lita is tipping a golden future for his former team-mate Michail Antonio, writes Paul Thompson.
The two were together at Reading after Antonio joined them as an 18-year-old from Isthmian League club Tooting and Mitcham United in 2008.
Lita, who was already an established Royals player, noted the winger’s potential and he often trained with the first team.
“When Michail came in from non-League, he did really well,” said Lita, aged 28.
“He’s really pushed on; I’m pleased for him. He’s got his career going and he can be a top player.
“He came in as an 18-year-old; he was training with us all the time. You could see he’d got drive and determination, and I’m really pleased he’s here at a big club and he’s doing well.”
Antonio, 23, made few starts for the Royals but made a handsome profit for them when he joined the Owls for £750,000 last summer after starring on loan in the promotion campaign.
Lita left Reading for Middlesbrough in 2009 after making 73 league and cup starts and scoring 32 goals.
A prolific stay at the Riverside Stadium was followed by a £1.75 million transfer to Swansea in the summer of 2011 after the Swans had won promotion to the Premier League.
Lita has been given only four league starts by the Welsh outfit and his only games this season were in a two-month loan spell at Birmingham, until he was signed on loan for the rest of the season by the Owls and came off the bench to score the winner in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Charlton.
The striker’s goodwill message towards Swansea for their Capital One Cup final clash with Bradford on February 24 sat well with Dave Jones’ gratitude for the willingness of Swans chairman Huw Jennings to let him move to Hillsborough on loan.
Clearly with no hard feelings towards his club, Lita says: “The lads there are doing well. I’m really pleased for everyone there. It’s a great club with a great bunch of people.
“I hope they win the final because they really deserve it. The club has really pushed on. They have a good set of players, good staff and a good chairman.
He accepts that manager Michael Laudrup makes the decisions and he cannot really grumble when the team are in the final and doing well in the league - ninth when he joined the Owls.
Did you know? Playing on loan for Norwich, Leroy Lita equalised to make it 2-2 at Hillsborough on November 29, 2008, but Marcus Tudgay scored a winner in the 72nd minute.