Smudger Smith: My advice to Robin van Persie - give your badge a kiss

The Journeyman Pro

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The Independent Online

In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon 'Smudger' Smith has played for over 67 clubs. The ultimate utility player, as his pace has diminished, he has reinvented himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper. Now that his website has been closed down, we have exclusive access to his weekly column.

I know just how Robin van Persie feels. We're both big-name signings attempting to make our mark in new surroundings with dissenters desperate for us to fail (I must confess I was surprised when a fellow sportswriter from these pages booed me as I made a cup of tea yesterday in the office. Luckily, my career has given me nothing if not the ability to withstand criticism).

You never forget your first time. Your first kiss. Your first game. Your first kiss during a game. Boy, did that go down badly at The Den.

RVP's debut for United was just like mine here at The Indy as I struggled to get my creative juices flowing. We both spent over an hour sitting on our behinds doing absolutely nothing. Staring at the blank page, I consoled myself with the thought that it was the first clean sheet I've had in years.

RVP only made one major error. You need to make a good impression with the fans early on and I was disappointed not to see him kiss the United badge. I fondly recall making my debut for Barnet and going at it like I was Leo and that the shirt was Kate, albeit a polyester Kate. People thought that was a bit much for winning a corner but it's important to take your chances when they come.

RVP was deemed lacking in match fitness and Wayne Rooney's sluggishness suggested he too was struggling after the summer. It's hard to adjust to how much the game has changed; you really do have to treat your body like a temple these days. Hard to believe that once upon a time I would have a fag at half-time. Sadly, it's not 2002 any more.

Finally, I hope that we can now move on from the pointless comparison of Olympians with footballers. It's annoyed me as there are plenty of lovely guys in the game (Julian Dicks will always open a door for a lady). The double standards are even more irritating. Tom Daley dives and then celebrates with his shirt off but is given a prize instead of two yellows.

I hope you've enjoyed this column and I've justified my (undisclosed) fee. Until next time, happy football!

Follow me on Twitter: @smudgersmithpro

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