Academy graduate Alex Smith signed a contract extension with Fulham Football Club during the summer of 2012. The left back put pen to paper on a contract that will keep him at the Club until the summer of 2013.
Smith was an ever present member of the U18 Academy team that reached the 2010/11 Academy League Final and last season stepped up to the Club’s Development Squad Team.
Today we are speaking to Alex Smith, a defender at Fulham FC, would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?
My name is Alex Smith, I have played for Fulham Academy for 8-9 years and I have been professional for 3 of those years. I am waiting for my opportunity to break into the first team, if not I will go on loan to show what I can do.
We have seen recently, that you got the contract extension through to next year, with the goal this year being breaking into the first team?
Yup, yeah. Thats right
The Fulham Academy has recently produced stars in Zat Knight, Sean Davis and Chris Smalling. What was it like training through Fulham Academy, we imagine a great experience?
Oh definitely, Fulham Academy has got recognition for being one of the best in the country, so for me to be able to train there from the age of 12 upwards I feel it has helped my development a lot. To train 3-4 times a week and play a match every weekend, I think I have really improved as a player and it is the main reason I still am playing football at 20.
So obviously, beside yourself, is there anyone in the academy we should keep an eye out for this year or in coming years?
There is a lot of good young players at Fulham as they continue to bring more into the academy and a few players have recently moved into the first team, Kerim Frei and Alex Kacaniklic.
They are two I would say that people should look out for, definitely.
As a young football player how difficult was it to balance training and enjoy being young (going out, seeing friends)?
Yeah, it was especially difficult when you are really young and after school you want to go out with mates, and have a kick about but instead you have to travel to training, then travel back and not get back until late in thhe eveninig. IT is very hard but I feel like those are the sacrifices you have to make if you want to achieve something and be successful in the game.
As you get older you realise how much you want it, and for that reason it doesn’t bother you missing out as you want to achieve your goal.
To lead on from that, knowing how many young kids want to make it into the pro ranks and youth academies, what advice would you give them?
Just try to believe in yourself as much as possible really, practise as much as you can, every day, but the main thing is to have confidence in yourself and your ability. Also believe that anything is possible.
When you were coming up was there any one piece of advice that stuck from you, perhaps the best thing you heard from a coach or family or friends, like one piece of advice that stuck with you that really helped you push on?
Yeah one of my idols Thierry Henry, said that he hates losing but he is not afraid to fail. That stuck with me and told me I shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes or have a bad game. That comes with it, you just got to believe in yourself and take the rough with the smooth.
Some great advice from a personal all time favourite player! Having been part of this current Fulham team, you have some great players like Dembele, Dempsey and Murphy but who would you say is this most technically gifted? Not to put you on the spot and say the best player, but the one with that “wow” factor?
I’m really impressed with Moussa Dembele, very much so. He has great control of the ball and is still quite a young player. He just finished his second season in the Premiership so he is always improving. In training he definitely stands out as one of the better technical players.
Do you find that in the Fulham camp, there is a good comradery? Do the senior stars help out the young academy players that are trying to break through, giving advice and act as a shoulder to lean on?
Yeah definitely. All of the first team players are very helpful and kind, especially when a young player goes up to train with the first team. They are always there to give you advice and answer any questions you have. ITs really good to just talk to them and their expereince, what helped them achieve their goals as a professional footballer.
As a young English defender, is there anyone you look up to and try to pattern your game after?
Especially when I was younger, Ashley Cole. We play the same position and he was becoming one of the best at his position in the world. He is still at the top of his game so he is a great example.
On a lighter note, with the Olympics in full swing in London2012 and Usain Bolt just winning gold in the 100m again, who do you think is the fastest player over 100m for Fulham?
Erm, its a tough one. But we have a young Portuguese player coming through and he is very quick so I would have to say him. His name is Buomesca Tue Ne Bangna, it would have to be him.
We shall keep an eye out for him! What is the most unique pre match ritual and what kind of music do you have in the dressing room if you are getting pumped up and ready for a big game?
Well on the music side of things its just a mix of whoever puts their music on. Everyone is happy to listen to whatever and some people just have headphones in, doing their own thing. In terms of rituals you don’t see it much in the reserves but everyone probably has their own thing they keep to themselves.
Beside you obvious talent in football, do you have any other hidden talents that you specialise in on the side?
[Laughs] erm I fancy myself at golf actually. I haven’t got into it fully yet, in terms of getting a handicap but when I do play I seem like quite a good player with some potential!
Well it has been a pleasure speaking to you today Alex. We are sure you will be playing in the first team in no time, is there anything you would like to add or shoutout too just before we go?
Nah,just great to have an interview and I look forward to looking back on it.
For all listeners/readers you can contact Alex on twitter via @AlexReenz . We look forward to checking in with him again later on in the season.
Host; Luke Gurrey. @ImAlways_Hungry
Guest; Alex Smith. @AlexReenz