Q and A with Matt Smith


Amidst the Christmas chaos, Brisbaneroar.com.au caught up with club captain Matt Smith to ask your chosen questions from Facebook and Twitter.

Amidst the Christmas chaos, Brisbaneroar.com.au caught up with club captain Matt Smith to ask your chosen questions from Facebook and Twitter.

1. Which player did you pretend to be when kicking the ball around as a youngster and what teams did you support or still follow now?

When I was younger, I grew up idolising Manchester United – the likes of Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes, Paul Ince, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. There wasn-t one particular player but when I was kicking the ball about in the park, they were always the team that I used to compare the things I was doing with. I still follow them now. It works out quite well, when I come home from a game, more often than not they-re on TV after us. I can never sleep after playing a game so it works out well that they-re on so I still try and follow them as much as I can. If I can-t watch the game, then there are always the highlights, if I can-t watch the highlights, there is always the score on the iPhone and if it-s not the score, it-s always asking mates.

2. Let-s talk about your captaincy. From a leadership perspective, what do you find yourself doing differently now you are captain? What was it like when Ange told you that you would be captain?

It-s only small things that I-m doing differently to be honest. Last year, I was one of the older players in the squad anyway when Matt McKay was captain. Now I-ve got the captaincy, it-s stepping up in small areas but the majority of my game and my leadership style hasn-t really changed too much. Obviously, there are times when I-m more vocal and times when I-m more considerate of others, thinking of others, motivating others to perform at their best. It-s all these things both on and off the pitch that I think is really, really important. Leading by example is one of the key ways to do that. We do place a large emphasis on the leadership group here at the club; myself, Theo [Michael Theoklitos], Erik [Paartalu] and Stef [Shane Stefanutto]. We don-t have a changing room full of groups, everyone is in the same position – it doesn-t matter if you-re young, old, playing, not playing, everyone has the same level of respect and I think that-s shown over the past 18 months that it is one of the keys to our success. The day before Ange told me I was going to be captain, I got a call from a journalist saying ‘I hear you-re going to be captain-. I basically said that no-one had said anything to me, the gaffer hadn-t spoken to me about it and that I was just going to assume it-s one of the other boys in the leadership group. When the gaffer told me in the morning, I was very, very shocked but on the same level, I was very, very honoured and proud to be captain of this club. It-s something I-m certainly cherishing and something that I will be doing my utmost to ensure I do well. Straight after training, I was on the phone to my old man and my fiancée, it was a very proud moment.

3. What do you think the reason has been for the recent dip in form and what do you do as a captain to inspire your team to get through it?

We-ve done consistently very well over the last 18 months and there are a couple of areas that we-re not doing as well in now. That-s across the park – from a defensive perspective to an attacking perspective. Our performances haven-t been as good as the level we-ve set ourselves to and we set ourselves very, very high standards. That-s something that has led to us continuing to develop over the last 18 months. Again, by keeping developing it means we-re keeping ahead of the other teams in the league. From a captain-s perspective trying to motivate the boys, it-s not too hard. The boys are just as keen now as they were last week, two weeks ago, six months ago. The motivation of the boys really hasn-t changed. From a captain-s perspective, it-s really refreshing to see that nothing changes. It gives that consistency back, we keep developing, the boys are still enjoying their football and the confidence is still there in their game. It-s just small things but ultimately, there-s no real issue with our form. We haven-t gotten the results over the past couple of weeks but that doesn-t mean to say we-ve turned into a bad team overnight. If you look at the whole season and what we-ve achieved, it is just a matter of time before we start getting the three points back on the scoreboard.

4. If you could pick one team from anywhere in the world to play against, who would it be and why?

I think I would have to pick the obvious choice in Barcelona. Maybe I-ll say two actually. Obviously, Barcelona are the best team in the world at the moment and that-s been proven with their achievements over the past 12 to 18 months. It would be fantastic to play against the best team in the world, a team on a completely different level. I-d also like to play against the England national team at Wembley. Being born and raised in England, and watching the likes of Gary Lineker back in the day, I think that would be a pretty good moment as well.

5. You-re a naturalised Australian and were involved in a recent Socceroos training camp. Do you consider yourself both English and Australian? What would it mean to you to wear the green and gold?

I do see myself as a dual citizen, being English and now Australian. I guess I see myself as 50-50. It would be a great honour and a great achievement to represent England and it would be a great honour and great achievement to represent Australia. I was really excited about the recent training squad and I would cherish the opportunity and be honoured if I was given the chance to represent Australia at any level and it would be something I would grasp with both hands. I-ve just got to keep doing my best and from that perspective, the only thing I can do at the moment is to keep working hard here in Brisbane.

6. How hard is it balancing being a father and other aspects of family life with life as a professional footballer? How does being away on a regular basis affect this as well?

I think I-ve got a great balance of family life and football life. I haven-t always played football and when my daughter was born, I was working full-time and playing at the Brisbane Strikers and training three nights a week and playing at the weekends, sometimes travelling away. I was only seeing my family once or twice in the evening and one day at the weekend and that-s not really family time. In comparison now, I work very, very hard at training and I-ll be here every minute and more but when I go home, I get to spend a lot of time with my family. That-s one of the best things about being a professional footballer, I get to see my two children grow and it-s great to spend time with them because I-ve had the experience in the past where I couldn-t as much because I had bills to pay and I had to go out and work full-time. Now, for example, it-s fantastic because I can go to training in the morning and I can go and spend the afternoon with the family. Yes, when I am away, sometimes it-s difficult, not so much for me but for my partner. If I-m away, usually it-s three days but if we go somewhere like Perth or Adelaide it-s five or six days and she-s got to cater for two young children. I feel guilty that I-m away but at the same time, I-m spending more time with my family now than I ever have which I do cherish.

7. What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of football?

Away from the family, there are two things that I have a real passion for. The first one is surfing. When I first moved to Australia, I lived on the Gold Coast for a couple of years and it took me a year to master the art of standing up but I finally did it – not on anything big but the ability to stand up is more than pleasing to me. I don-t do it as much these days with football because there is risk of injury but prior to becoming a footballer, I used to love going out for a surf on the weekends and some mornings during the week. That-s something I-d be looking to take up once football is over. My second passion is photography. I love taking photos of the family and I love that scenic element of capturing something. I-m not sure if I-m any good but I enjoy taking a photo here or there.

8. What do you want for Christmas?

From a football perspective, I want my groin ready for the Boxing Day clash.

9. And finally, the most important and most asked question … will you be fit to play Gold Coast United on Boxing Day?

At the moment, it-s a 50-50 chance. I have progressed excessively well over the last week and I-ve past any fitness test that Timmy [Brisbane Roar physio Tim Oostenbroek] and Kenny [Brisbane Roar assistant coach Ken Stead] have thrown at me which is good. I have another evaluation on Saturday morning to see where it-s at and if it progresses again on Sunday, then I-ll be right to play on Monday. We-re doing everything we can to hurry the process along, I-m getting lots of treatment and I think if it-s not ready by Monday, it-ll be very, very close. My fingers are crossed so hopefully Santa comes and brings me my wish!