This season we have been reflecting on 10 Years at Oteley Road - to celebrate this we will be bringing you an exclusive interview with a player from the last decade. Today it is Jayson Leutwiler!
In a poll run by the club Jayson received over 65% of the vote for the fans favourite goalkeeper over the last 10 years.
A record breaker, an international and Town’s number one for three seasons, Jayson enjoyed an excellent career with Shrewsbury, a club and a place he has fallen in love with.
“I’ve met many people here and I have many friends in Shrewsbury who are Shrewsbury fans, so the contact is close with them and I know what they think about the club and the team.
“I’ve been living in Shrewsbury for three years and I’ve never moved from my house. It’s a good experience here and I have really enjoyed my time.”
Jayson arrived at Town during a time of big change. Shrewsbury had just been relegated to League Two and Micky Mellon was looking to put together a completely new squad. 140 games later and with the second best goals conceded per game ratio, Jayson has made himself a club legend.
“There were many changes when I arrived”, Jayson reminisces.
“If I remember rightly only two or three players stayed here and the rest were new players, so that was a motivating factor. It felt like a good challenge for myself and for everyone at the club.
“The plan was to come here and achieve something good. I wanted to play as many games and I could and obviously it has worked out well over the last few years.
“I never imagined making nearly 150 appearances. It’s actually pretty cool. To play 150 games in three years is very good.”
With 23 clean-sheets in the 2014-15 season Leutwiler broke a club record for the most clean-sheets in a single season. That number included three shutouts against higher league opposition in the League Cup and provided a memorable season for the ‘keeper.
“I have a few special moments”, admitted Leutwiler.
“The first season was a dream. To gain promotion and get a club record was great. That will probably stay for a few years now. It is good to be part of the history of the club and hopefully people in 20 years can talk about me breaking the club record.
“The cup runs were amazing. The first time I thought it was a once in a lifetime experience and I thought I would never play against a big club like Chelsea again and then the next year we played against Manchester United.”
Perhaps Jayson’s greatest memory with Town came on the 25th April 2015 when Shrewsbury clinched promotion with a 1-0 win over Cheltenham Town and it’s a moment that he admits he will never forget.
“It was my birthday on that day”, remembers Jayson.
“It was a very hot afternoon and the pitch was very dry. Cheltenham had to win to stay up, so it was a very tense game.
“I remember my friend Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro scored the goal which meant we won and got promoted and I remember in the last minute I had to make a save and finally the whistle went - it is a very nice memory.
Jayson came to Town’s attention thanks to Danny Coyne’s relationship with his former club Middlesbrough. Coyne and Leutwiler have worked closely together ever since and Jayson praised the former Wales goalkeeper for his help over the years.
“Me and Danny have a good relationship”, said the 6ft 5inch stopper.
“We have known each other for three years, so we know each other well and he knows what I need and what I don’t need for games or training. He has helped me so much and I am very happy to have him here.
“Mark (Halstead) and Callum (Burton) were here from the very start with Micky Mellon until now and we’ve had a good relationship. I text Mark the other day to see how he is and we will stay in touch.
“If I have to compare my first game here, which was AFC Wimbledon away, and my last game, which was Oxford, I am a completely different player. My personality has changed, everything has changed, but that is good.”
His success at Shrewsbury not only brought success in England, but it has also led to him fulfilling a lifetime ambition of playing international football.
Born in Switzerland, Jayson qualifies for Canada through his mother and was made his international debut for the Canadian national team last November, before heading to the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer.
“It’s a dream to play for your country”, admitted Leutwiler.
“I’ve had the chance to go to the Gold Cup, which is a big event in America. It was a fantastic experience and I really hope that it happens many more time.
“You are with a group of lads for three or four weeks and you build a really great team spirit. We had some great results and we were successful.
“Unfortunately in the quarter-final we lost, but on the whole it was very positive and for the country, who hadn’t passed the group stages for 8 years, to get to the quarter finals was huge event for Canada.”