Smudger Smith: Spare a thought for Qatar in the Rio Ferdinand ruckus

The Journeyman Pro

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The Independent Football

In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon "Smudger" Smith has played for over 67 clubs and has reinvented himself time and again, from poacher to goalkeeper.

England entered tonight’s San Marino clash with less of a defence than Chris Huhne. And, like Huhnie’s missus, they were always expected to end up with the points. San Marino is a country with roughly 30,000 times the population of Dan Marino. Roy Hodgson argued that it was by no means an easy game. With a record of 115 games, one win, three draws and 111 losses, they were clearly due a result.

The major controversy this week was Ferdinand pulling out of the squad. Many are suggesting that Rio should have stepped up given England have so few fit central defenders but spare a thought for Qatar television – they didn’t even have one. I’m glad he did the honourable thing.

Ferdinand’s old team-mate Michael Owen has announced  his impending retirement. Wild horses couldn’t drag Mickey away from football but it turns out tame ones could. It will be very strange to watch a Premier League game without Owen starting. People are suggesting Michael’s potential was unfulfilled and they’re right – what has he actually won in the game apart from the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Uefa Cup, Golden Boots and a Ballon d’Or? Looking at those honours, I shudder to think what they’ll write about me when I finally pack it in. I feel the same when I read about Jason Lee.

Congratulations to Ben Foster on his return to the England fold. Having previously announced his international retirement, he obviously took advice from an IT specialist and restarted his England career by turning it off then on again. Not all keepers had such a good week – Wojciech Szczesny had to endure his dad embarrassing him in the press in an attempt to defend his son. It was different for me at Arsenal when Dad defended me. George Graham slagged me off for running out of puff after 17 minutes and Dad was great. He said: “That’s literally all Smudger’s got in him.” Top man.

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