Smith - The goalscorer
name’s Alan Smith I became a professional footballer in 1982
when I joined Leicester City. Played for them for 5 years. I think
I scored 76 goals for them in that time. And then I joined Arsenal
in 1987. We were lucky enough to win the league in 1989.
Arsenal hadn’t won it for 18 years. I won the Golden Boot
in that season as the division’s top scorer then we
won the league again in ’91 and a few more trophies came
and I retired in 1995 after a bad knee injury.
of those trophies means most to you?
first championship does I think because we hadn’t won the
league in 18 years but the manner of the victory at Anfield
when it was the last game of the season against Liverpool
and we had to beat them by two goals and you know obviously nobody
expected us to win but I scored the first goal shortly into the
second half and that was one of, I’d say that was my most
important goal of my career really. And Michael Thomas got the winner,
the clincher in the dying seconds and it was just a super way to
finish, to win the championship and finish the season and
it’s something which I don’t think will ever be repeated.
other goals in your career stand out for you?
Scoring for England at Wembley I think. I scored two goals in,
I got 13 caps but I got two – I got one against Turkey which
was in the European Championship qualifier and it was the only goal
of the match - we won one-nil at Wembley. It was a headed
goal from close in it wasn’t that spectacular but, you know, my
Dad was up in the stand and to score the winning goal for
England is something else entirely. That was a very proud moment
– but yeah,the one at Anfield, the Cup Winners Cup goal, that was
a big one for me when we beat Parma – that was the only goal of
the match as well.
was quite a long distance one for me. Normally I didn’t score too
many outside the box. That one was just outside and with
the left foot, a volley, the inside of the post it
went in off and em yeah it was added excitement because it was a
major final and it was a good goal.
you describe what’s it like to score an important goal?
It’s difficult, I mean you get a huge adrenaline rush with
any goal normally. As a striker scoring is your lifeblood and it’s
a wonderful feeling every time you hit the back of the net.
But I mean in the major finals if you score a goal immediately you
understand the significance of it, of course, but I think it’s when
you sit back afterwards and you think ‘Oh blimey, you know, that
was a big game! Er, you know, I did well there’ I mean it is a brilliant
feeling at the time, there’s nothing that can describe it – I think
that rush of adrenaline is something that you do miss when you finish.
would be the worst experiences you’ve had – other than having to
retire early, but actually during a game or a season?
Couple of matches. We lost to Wrexham in the FA Cup, Arsenal
did, which was a huge shock at the time – probably the one that
hurt even more was when we lost to Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final
at Wembley when Gazza got that free kick and Gary Lineker got two.
Probably the biggest disappointment was the number of goals I scored
in the later years of my career when I became a provider more than
a scorer and it was a period that I didn’t really enjoy and it was
a shame because it was my last couple of years in the game and I
went out with a whimper really and it’s something I regret happening.
is more rewarding, playing for a successful club or playing for
your country or is it two different things?
is two different things. I mean there’s a great feeling of camaraderie
with your club team mates because you are very close to them and
you aren’t so much with the England lads who you meet up with occasionally,
every month or so. So when you’ve achieved something you’ve all
worked together for it you’ve all trained together everyday, know
each others’ characters inside out and that’s a wonderful feeling
when you pull something off. But you know obviously representing
your country is another feeling and em I mean we’ve not been too
successful down the years with England but nevertheless standing
there for the National Anthem and to actually say that, you
know, at one given time you were the best player in England in that
position it’s a great feeling when you look back.
you had to retire early because of injury but was there anything
left you felt you wanted to achieve?
Looking back I would’ve liked to play abroad I think.
I think there were various opportunities but I wasn’t out of
contract and the clubs turned it down but it would have been
a nice thing to be able to say you’ve been abroad and conquered
that and learnt the language, adapted to the lifestyle and everything.
I think it would have broadened your horizons and it would have
benefited you as a person but having said that I can’t complain.
I was at Arsenal during that time when I perhaps could have gone
abroad and you know the times we had there were fantastic so, erm,
but no I would have liked to have played a bit longer.
would’ve liked to play the World Cup for England actually. I just
missed out in selection in 1990. I was in the squad of 26 and he
(the manager) whittled it down to 22. That was a bad day.
That would’ve been nice to go to a world cup.
is it that makes a striker a good striker?
think, well, he’s got to be single minded if he wants to score goals.
There were times where perhaps there might a better pass on but
you see the goals and you want to have a shot. You’ve got
to be durable you know you’ve got to be able to take knocks, you
know, both mentally and physically because there’s going to be times
when you’ll go through a bad patch and you’ve got to stay strong
and come through that and not let your head drop. Got to be a good
footballer, have good control, all the normal things that you would
expect to become a footballer. But, you know, being a striker is
quite a specialised job and a lot of it is mental you know – having
the confidence and self belief to go out there and knock them in.
Sometimes chances can look easy but when you’re not in a run of
good form they’re very difficult, and yeah, lots mental.
advice would you give to someone just starting out – from your experience
what would you like to pass on.
I would say to just work hard and be dedicated at your profession
because the more work that you do put in the more rewards you’ll
get out. And it’s quite a ruthless game, you’re there to represent
yourself first and foremost and you’ve got to look after yourself
and in doing that you’ll help the team if you give it your best.
Just basically to be dedicated – it’s long slog, a season is a long
slog, and to try and be consistent and put full effort into every