Matt Smith’s journey to professional football is not your run of the mill story.
Matt Smith-s journey to professional football is not your run of the mill story.
Having gone through the youth academy at Portsmouth, the Englishman played amateur football throughout his time at university before migrating to Queensland and becoming an Aussie.
He played for Palm Beach, then signed for the Brisbane Strikers before Ian Ferguson brought him in as an injury replacement at North Queensland Fury, making his professional football debut at the ripe old age of 27.
Soon after Ange Postecoglou offered him a contract at Brisbane Roar and Smith subsequently became one of the most reliable defenders in the A-League.
Socceroos caps followed and it appeared to have been a fairytale run for a determined footballer that never gave up on his dream until the very thing that got him a start in professional football, an injury, put a halt to his whirlwind rise.
The Roar captain was ruled out of almost half the 2012/13 A-League season as the dream he worked so hard towards came crashing down with a severe hip injury.
It has been eight long months on the sidelines for Smith and he is as determined as ever to get back to the form that saw him get the opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“It was definitely hard watching from the sidelines throughout the backend of the season,” Smith said.
“For me personally the pre-season started back in February, so I have been preparing for the upcoming season for the past six or seven months and it has gone very well.
“When I eventually got back training with the boys it became a normal pre-season again and I am now just really excited for it all to kick off.”
As the opportunity approaches for Smith to again step out on the hallowed turf of Suncorp Stadium he knows that wearing the Roar kit comes with a lot of expectation for both himself and his teammates.
“The club-s culture is built around putting in the performances on the pitch and while these have been good in the past we are aiming to get better.
“We are looking to get back to the heights the club has experienced and know that with the other A-League clubs performances on the improve that we also need to step up.
“Of course we want to be there on grand final day but we know that starts from working hard on the training pitch and building from there.”
Much of the club-s success will come down to a strong defensive line that will be led by Smith and Socceroo Jade North who has returned to Australia.
“It was great when Jade returned to start training with the side and we have worked closely together.
“We have been working with one another in the pre-season matches along with the rest of the defence and no matter which way we line up at the start of the season we are ready to go.”
After consistently performing week-in week-out for the Roar, Smith made his Socceroos debut weeks after his love-affair with Australia became official when he became a dual Australian-English citizen.
“I am very proud to call myself Australian after gaining my citizenship back in October.
“My friends back home, here and also at the club have been very supportive and I was extremely proud to have had the opportunity to represent the Socceroos.”
And in terms of once again lining up in the green and gold kit, Smith has one sole focus once he returns from injury.
“I was devastated to have missed eight months for my club so my biggest priority is to play well and stay free from injury.
“I-m hoping to perform for Brisbane and hope that at some point in the future that takes care of itself.”
With the determination he has shown in the past it would not surprise anyone if he made it back onto the international scene.
“I-ve always wanted to play at the highest level I could.
“Football has always been a passion of mine and eventually I was given my chance by Ian Ferguson at the Fury and then Ange at the Roar. Now Mike (Mulvey) has helped to ensure that I make a successful come back.
“I am hoping to repay their faith in me by getting back on the pitch and playing to the best of my ability.”
Smith will get that chance when the Brisbane Roar travel away to take on the Wellington Phoenix on October 13 before they return to Suncorp Stadium to take on Sydney FC in their home opener on October 19.