With six goals in his last six games, Swansea City’s Jamal Lowe is certainly making a name for himself in South Wales. At 26 years old, it’s hard to believe that he’s only been a professional footballer for three years…
Having signed for Portsmouth at 23 years of age following a string of successes with non-league sides, Lowe’s footballing tale is like no other, and whilst it’s not been an easy journey to the Sky Bet Championship, it’s certainly one he can be proud of.
Following his release from then League Two side Barnet as a youngster, Lowe represented a number of non-league sides in a bid to keep his football career alive. Hitchin Town, St Albans City, Farnborough, Hemel Hempstead and Hampton & Richmond all had the young winger on their books at one time, but there was soon a need to supplement the income from playing part-time football.
When he was handed an opportunity to teach, he took it. As a PE teacher, football was a part of his life only twice a week, a return to the professional game seemingly out of reach, but his hunger and desire for success never went away.
Speaking to Mark Clemmit on the Official EFL Podcast, Lowe tells the story of how he achieved his football dream.
“I was a full-time PE teacher, playing football only on a Tuesday and a Thursday night,” Lowe explained.
“As a kid growing up, I wanted to play football every day, so doing it just two nights a week is the last think you want. Games get cancelled more frequently at that level; work starts to conflict with training and that just wasn’t the life that I wanted.”
His appetite for professional football never went away and so came the life-changing moment that Lowe dedicated himself to pursuing a lifelong ambition.
“I decided I wanted to really push to be a professional footballer,” he continued.
“I quit being a teacher which was a huge decision, but I didn’t have kids then, I was still living at home so it was an easier choice to make, but at the same time I wasn’t really earning anything playing non-league so my full-time job was my only income, but I knew I had to give it up.
“It was very much a case of ‘do what makes you happy’. My family were really supportive, they knew that football was my only passion so they encouraged me to do what made me happy.”
Despite being released from QPR and Barnet as a youngster, Lowe kept going, determined to make his mark as a footballer, no matter how late it would come.
“Self-belief,” he said, when asked what kept him going.
“I knew that I was good enough to play professionally, at what level I didn’t quite know - it could have been League One or League Two, but I knew that I could have a career in football and I just wasn’t happy with what I was doing.
“Of course I lost faith from time to time. There were a few times where I thought, this isn’t going to work for me. You see it first-hand, I saw it with some of my mates who got released and never played football again, so there were plenty of moments when I worried it might not work, but I think that was the difference for me, I kept the self-belief and I was so determined, I knew deep down I was good enough and it could happen for me.
“I just had something that wouldn’t let me quit. Whenever things got tough and a little bit harder I just took it to the next level and I think that’s when I really came out of my shell and started to show what I could do.
“It was sink or swim for me, I’d quit my job and they weren’t going to take me back, so I knew I had to succeed in football. I saved the little money that I had for my gym membership, which wasn’t a lot, and that’s where I started. I couldn’t live the rest of my life wondering ‘what if?”
Six months later, Lowe had signed for Portsmouth, where he went on to make more than 100 appearances. He scored in the game in which promotion to League One was secured, and again as Pompey clinched the League Two title. He also helped the club to EFL Trophy success, scoring in front of a sold-out Wembley Stadium as Portsmouth overcame Sunderland in the 2019 Final.
After a brief spell with Wigan Athletic last season, Lowe moved to the Liberty Stadium, where it would be fair to say he is enjoying his football more than ever.
Swansea City currently sit second in the Championship table, with Lowe on eight goals for the season - six of those coming in his last six appearances.
“It feels good, really good,” he told Mark Clemmit. “It’s a blessing really, to look at where I am now, when I think where life could have taken me, and there’s still so much more to come as well.
“I’m far from satisfied with the position I’m in at the minute, I want to keep going and keep pushing as far and as high as is physically possible for me.”
Having lost out in the Play-Offs to Brentford last season, Swansea will be hoping to go one better this season and seal their return to the Premier League. With Steve Cooper’s side only four points off top spot at the half-way point, things are looking good for the South Wales side.
“This season we’ve started off well, we’re currently in the automatic promotion places, but some teams have got a game in hand so it’s nothing to get too carried away with, but we’ve had a great first half of the season and that’s all we can do.
“I think the disappointment from last season has only motivated the manager and the side to go one better. When you come so close to something it’ll either disappoint you so much so that it slips away from you even further, or it will push you on even further to make sure you hit that goal next time and I think the Play-Off disappointment for Swansea last season has done the latter."