Defender Tommy Smith is currently part of the All Whites squad competing at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. He plys his trade with Ipswich Town in the English Championship.
As the All Whites prepare to meet Portugal in their third and final match of the FIFA Confederations Cup on Sunday morning (NZT), here are five things to know about Tommy Smith.
Spent eight years in New Zealand
Smith arrived on New Zealand shores as a young child. He was born in Macclesfield in England but raised in Auckland. He attended Westlake Boys High School and played for the first XI during his time there. He left New Zealand at the age of 16 to become part of Ipswich Town’s academy. As a promising teenager, he represented England at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2007. At the age of 20, he made himself available for All Whites selection and starred at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, going on to become one of country’s most important players.
Signed first pro contract in 2007
After leaving New Zealand, Smith signed a three-year professional contract with Ipswich Town in 2007. At the age of 16, he spent time with the first team squad before being loaned out to Stevenage Borough. He played 15 games for the club in the Conference National before returning to Ipswich. On the back of his good form for Stevenage, he soon made his debut for the Tractor Boys in a 2-1 loss to Preston North End, which was the first match of the 2008/09 Season. He scored his first professional goal in a 3-1 away win against Middlesbrough in 2010.
Currently Ipswich’s longest-serving player
Now 27, Smith has been a professional with Ipswich for 10 years and is the Tractor Boys’ longest-serving player. He has made over 240 appearances and scored 21 goals. In addition to spending time at Stevenage Borough, he was also loaned out to Brentford and Colchester United earlier in his career. He was earmarked for success from a tender age and was shortlisted for the Wickes Young Apprentice Trophy, given to the best youth player in the Championship.
Owns his own football academy
In May 2015, Smith opened up his own academy, called the Tommy Smith Soccer School. The intention was to boost grassroots football within the Ipswich area and create an environment for young children to develop their skills and enjoy football.
One of New Zealand’s youngest ever captains
In 2012, Tommy Smith was named captain of the All Whites against El Salvador in a friendly, just two years after making his debut in 2010 against Mexico in a 2-0 loss. At the age of 22, Smith also captained the side in his 12th appearance against Honduras in the same window. Smith has now made 34 appearances for the All Whites and is likely to add another cap to that tally overnight against Portugal in the FIFA Confederations Cup.