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:wub: Alan Smith (born 28 October 1980 in Rothwell, Leeds) is an English football player. He has played centre-forward for most of his career, but as of 2005 he is undergoing a conversion into a midfield role. He formerly played for Leeds United and now plies his trade for Manchester United. He is 5'10" tall, and weighs 152 pounds.

Alan Smith is a hard-working footballer, who got his start with the England School Boys Centre For Excellence but became home sick. He then joined with his hometown and future club, when he entered the Leeds United Centre of Excellence. Smith eventually joined up with Leeds United properly in March 1998.

His senior Premiership debut was as a substitute for Leeds vs. Liverpool at Anfield, where he displayed his natural scoring ability by scoring with his first touch of the ball. That goal helped propel him into the 1998-99 season, as he was one-half of manager David O'Leary's first-choice striker pairing, along with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Smith continued his run through the Leeds side, as the club began to grow in stature. Smith showed his class in 2001 while helping to lead the Leeds side through the much vaunted Champions League, though his experience ended on a sour note as he was sent off in the semi final. The following season saw Alan relegated to the midfield, his versatility working against him, as O'Leary tried to accommodate new signings. 2001 was also the year for Smith's break into the England squad. An England youth international at multiple levels, Smith made his senior England debut in May 2001. Unfortunately, Alan did not make the final cut for the 2002 World Cup, and accepted a starring role with the England Under-21 side.

A hometown hero and a teen idol for supporters of hometown club Leeds, Smith was the poster boy for the club for the 2002-2004 seasons, winning his supporter's "Player of the Year" award two years running, a first in Leeds' history, as smithy was one of their own (at the time). Though his goal tally was not excellent by any means, his willingness to play any role on the pitch and his tireless efforts to save "the Whites" from relegation for two seasons was met with love from his adoring public. This constant relentless workrate in the name of his hometown club caused him to pick up the nickname "Smudger" from the Leeds fans. Smith also caused controversy in the 2004 season when, in a League Cup game against Manchester United, he threw a bottle in the crowd after it was thrown on the field, incidentally hitting his best friend's sister. This incident landed Smith in hot water with his club and the FA. Smith announced his desire to leave Leeds due to relegation in May of 2004, ending his Leeds career by kissing the badge and crying at his last match. His transfer to bitter rivals Manchester United, however, led to controversy and his exit was marred by accusations of treachery[citation needed] going from hero to villain from the view of Leeds fans in the space of a day.

Smith started the second chapter of his career on August 8th, 2004 at the Community Shield clash against Arsenal F.C., netting for the "Red Devils" with a swerving volley in the 55th minute. Smith has impressed at Old Trafford since his arrival, with several prominent former players hailing him as something akin to the next Mark Hughes[citation needed]. Despite only being at the club for a few months, he developed a fearsome reputation for both long-ranged strikes such as his strikes against Arsenal and Norwich City, and more intelligent, 'poacher'-type goals, akin to those crafted by Ruud van Nistelrooy, such as the double against Dinamo Bucharest in the UEFA Champions League.

An injury hampered his first season, causing him to miss out on several matches including the Carling Cup semi-final against Chelsea. He missed out in the FA Cup final against Arsenal at Millennium Stadium as Manchester United lost out to penalties in the game. As the 2004-05 season ended rumours were rife about Alan Smith's future, despite Smith saying he wanted to continue at United for his entire career[citation needed]. The forward managed a good return of 10 goals for his first season at Old Trafford. However, with Wayne Rooney in sparkling form and Ruud van Nistelrooy back in the team after injury, Smith was relegated to the bench. However, he remained a fans' favourite.

In the summer of 2005 it emerged that Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was grooming Alan Smith as a successor to Roy Keane in the Manchester United midfield. Ferguson stated, "Roy sees characteristics in Alan that he saw in himself as a young player, which could help Alan develop into a very good player in that position."[1] Smith got his chance to prove his credentials as a replacement for Keane when the United skipper was injured early on in the 2005/2006 season. Smith began a prolonged run in the midfield 'anchor' role, with moderate effectiveness. However, as United began to stutter in the absence of several senior players, the midfield came under heavy flak from fans and pundits alike, and it was questioned whether Smith was cut out for the vital midfield role he was being asked to play[citation needed]. These criticisms aimed at Smith and his team-mates reached its nadir with United's embarrassing 4-1 capitulation away to Middlesbrough and the subsequent 1-0 defeat to Lille OSC in the Champions League. Smith was believed to be one of several United stars who were heavily criticised by Roy Keane in an MUTV interview that was thought too explosive to be aired and consigned to the cutting room floor by club officials. It seemed that Smith's performance in the crucial home match against league leaders Chelsea would be meticulously scrutinised in the light of Keane's damning words. Smith responded in spectacular fashion, giving a man-of-the-match performance as his side won 1-0. Following Roy Keane's contract termination at Manchester United, Alan Smith looks to secure the role of central midfielder.

Smith cemented his place in the hearts of Manchester United fans when he turned down the honourable chance of playing for his country, in order to work on his fitness in his new midfield role, in the reserve squad. Here, the fans got another glimpse of his commitment to the club, which is regarded almost as highly as anything else amongst supporters.

He has only one goal under his belt this season, that came in a 3-1 away win over Charlton Athletic at The Valley. On February 18, during a 1-0 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup, Alan broke his leg and dislocated his ankle while attempting to block a free-kick from Liverpool's John Arne Riise, an injury described by Sir Alex Ferguson as "one of the worst I've seen". Despite the rivalry between the two clubs, he was given an ovation by many of the Liverpool fans as he was stretchered off the pitch. A number of Liverpool fans attacked the ambulance during its departure from the scene, however, something which was widely condemned.[2]

As a result of this injury, Smith has missed out on a place in the England World Cup 2006 squad. [3]. On the next day, it was confirmed that Smith would miss action for at least 12 months, after a successful operation on his ankle- although in May it was reported that he would likely be back in action as soon as mid-September; he had been recovering alongside Wayne Rooney for several weeks, who was also reported to be making a 'miraculous' recovery on a broken foot.

"I felt my leg go from under me as I went to block a free-kick," Smith told The Sun. "When I looked down, the leg was lying one way and my ankle was pointing towards Hong Kong so I knew I was in serious trouble." There was however, a small consolation for Smith and his club when United beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 in the Carling cup final of the same season. United players toasted, with T-shirts emblazened with "For you Smudge", in homage to Smith and his horrific end to the 2005-06 season.

He currently wears the number 14 shirt.

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- edited by persuazn

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