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Smith Proud to Have Been at Olympics and Looking Forward to the New Season
Smith Proud to Have Been at Olympics and Looking Forward to the New Season
Monday, 6th Aug 2012 07:00

Town centre-half Tommy Smith is proud to have represented New Zealand at the Olympics but is now glad to be back at Portman Road looking forward to the new season. Smith’s Oly Whites exited London 2012 at the group stages earlier in the week having lost to Belarus and Brazil and after drawing with Egypt.

Smith, who also played for New Zealand’s senior side at the Oceania Nations Cup in the Solomon Islands earlier in the summer, admits he’s had a busy close season: “It’s been non-stop football for me really, but I enjoy playing and obviously representing my country is always a proud moment.

“[The Olympics is] something that I’ll never, ever forget. It will stay with me and my family for a long time. I’m proud to have represented my country at the Olympics.

“It’s the biggest honour in the game representing your country. I’d never willingly turn down the opportunity to do so.”

He says he hopes to spend some more time at Stratford in the next few days with New Zealand’s matches having been played at Coventry, Newcastle and in Manchester: “We only had a couple of days in the Village because our games were scattered around the country, so we were just travelling with the games.

“The Olympic Village is a great place and hopefully I can pop down there before the end of the Olympics.”

He says some of his family failed to see all of the Belarus match at the Ricoh Arena: “The first game there was an accident on the A14 so unfortunately my dad only made it to the game with a couple of minutes of injury time to go, the same with my girlfriend’s dad.

“That was unfortunate for them but they got to see the other games and the Old Trafford one was probably the biggest spectacle.”

That match against Brazil was the highlight, even if it ended in a 3-0 defeat: “I think I saw that their squad was valued at about £400 million, so it was an interesting experience but something I’ll always remember. Coming up against those big names, it was just a great experience all round.

“You don’t come across players of that talent very often. It was good to pit my wits against them and hopefully I can learn a few things from that game.”

Being involved in those games will have been a benefit fitness-wise, but Smith says his spell away meant he has missed time playing alongside his new team-mates: “I was playing competitive games, there’s that side of it, but on the flipside I wasn’t around the lads, which is a bit disappointing for me personally, but hopefully I can come back in and slip back into the set-up.

“I had the first week around the squad, so it’s not like I missed all of it. But obviously I would have liked to have been here to play a few more minutes with the new boys and get the team gelling.

“I feel much sharper now, I played three 90 minutes in a competitive environment which will stand me in good stead for the season.”

Saturday saw the 22-year-old’s first game alongside Luke Chambers and he felt it went well: “Hopefully that partnership will grow the more we play together. The same with the goalkeeper as well. The more we play together, the better it will be.”

He says he’s been impressed with what he’s seen of the new signings: “They all look like they’ll bring that added bit of quality to the squad that was probably needed. We’re just looking forward to the season starting off and being positive about it.

“The fans will agree we played some good stuff out there [against West Ham]. I don’t know what’s gone on in the last couple of games, but I felt like we were comfortable out there for the majority of the game.”

Smith knows he and the rest of the Blues’ backline have to reduce the total in the goals against column during the season ahead: “We all know we conceded far too many goals last season, and soft goals at that.

“I know the lads have been working hard at the defensive side of the game throughout pre-season and my first session back on Friday we were working hard on it. We want to nail that this season.”

Photo: Action Images

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BillBlue added 08:47 - Aug 6
Yes, I for one am truly glad to have you back Smithy. COYB

Len_Brennan added 10:14 - Aug 6
If not sooner, well then certainly later, Tommy will feel the effects of playing non-stop football through the summer. We desperately need another proven centre half to sign. The Chambers/Smith partnership seems promising but we need to have Delaney (concentrating), & a n other, maybe Wison, ready to come in & do the job when needed. They have to work hard to build up an understanding with the other defenders & goalkeepers in training, especially at set pieces, otherwise we'll have another season of keystone cops, who look like they've just met, when a change has to be made.

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