WHY I JUST HAD TO LEAVE TOTTENHAM
Smith feared being a forgotten man
SPURS reject Adam Smith says he joined Bournemouth to avoid becoming a footballing nobody.
Smith, 22, came through the ranks at White Hart Lane but made just one Premier League appearance in six years.
He has also been farmed out on loan SEVEN times, the latest to Derby which ended when Steve McClaren replaced Nigel Clough. Now the young right-back has decided to cut his ties with Tottenham and set up home on the south coast.
“I’m just sick of going on loan to be honest,” says Smith. “For the past five years I’ve basically been travelling all over England and living out of a suitcase.
“I’m not saying it’s the worst life in the world, but nobody is happy when they’re constantly away from family and friends, staying in hotels all the time.
“I still had two-and-a-half years on my contract, so I could have sat on that. There are plenty of players who would be happy to just stay and say: ‘I play for Tottenham’.
“But when that contract is up, what have you have to show for it? Nothing, really. Nobody knows who you are. I didn’t want to end up like that.”
Smith – whose peers at Spurs include Harry Kane,Tom Carroll and Swindon loanee Ryan Mason – was coached through the youth ranks by Tim Sherwood, and admits he thought about hanging around when the ex-Blackburn skipper became first-team boss.
“It did cross my mind,” he says. “But then you think what you’re up against. Kyle Walker isn’t going anywhere. Kyle Naughton is a great player.
“There’s a lot of good youngsters at Spurs. In fact there’s a lot of players full stop. It’s crazy, and it makes it very difficult get in the team. And there’s so much pressure on managers that they want to buy in readymade players, not try out kids. It’s not helping young English players, but what can you do? It’s the way the game is going.”
Smith’s first loan spell was at Wycombe in 2009, followed by stays at Torquay, Bournemouth, MK Dons, Leeds, Millwall and finally Derby. And while he enjoyed the experience, he believes loan players aren’t always treated fairly.
“When I was at Millwall for the first six months, I was flying, playing every game,” he says.
“I was getting Premier League interest and stuff like that. Then we got into a relegation battle and for some reason, I didn’t play as much. I think perhaps it’s easier to drop a loan player. The manager maybe thinks: ‘Well, he can always go back to Spurs’. It was the same at Derby.Nigel Clough brought me in and got sacked. Steve McClaren wanted his own players. If I’d been a permanent player, maybe he’d have used me, but because I was a loan I was easy to get rid of.”
And talking of managers being sacked…
“Yeah,” laughs Smith.“I went to Leeds on the Monday, then Simon Grayson got sacked on the Tuesday. I’m surprised anybody wants to sign me now!”
But somebody has, and after working with Cherries boss Eddie Howe in a season-long loan at Bournemouth in 201011, Smith is sure he will not regret leaving Spurs.
“There were other offers, both loan and permanent,” adds Smith, who has signed a three-and-a-half year deal.“But I know Eddie well, and he plays the kind of football I was brought up playing at Spurs.
“That’s obviously going to make my game look better, because I can go forward and express myself properly. I didn’t want to go to a team who would just ask me to tackle a man then bang it long.
“I’ve come here to improve and Eddie’s a top, top manager who will make that happen.”
HOME FROM LOAN: In his loan spell at Bournemouth in 2010-11, Adam Smith played 38 league games. Now he is back on a permanent deal
LIST: Barry Ferguson