New Zealand Football has joined the football community in mourning the loss of former All White Brian Smith, who passed away over the festive period at the age of 72.
Brian was capped once for his country in 1967 and had a huge family connection to the sport with several relatives – including ex-All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen – also representing New Zealand.
He moved to Rotorua 15 years ago but had previously worked in insurance for 25 years in Christchurch and Wellington. He married the late Sally Smith, who died five years ago, and together they had three children – Greg, Jacqui and Steve.
“He was madly in love with mum and was very sad last year as it would have been their 50th wedding anniversary,” daughter Jacqui Alexander says.
Jacqui says Brian didn’t mind what his children chose to pursue, as long as they gave 100 per cent.
“Once you were committed you were committed, you had to stick it out.”
Brian also leaves behind four grandchildren – Olivia, Connor, Daniel and Isobella.
Lifelong friend Clive Rennie met Brian through football billeting and says he was hugely passionate about the game.
“Brian was a very good player and loved his football, he was ambitious in his work and did very well in insurance.”
He also contributed to the Rotorua Daily Post as a sports reporter and it was in this capacity that Ron Cane, who spoke at Brian’s funeral, first came across him when Ron was a coach at the Ngongotaha Football Club.
“He was very professional and articulate,” he says.
“He was wide-ranging [in his knowledge of sports] and was a bit of an encyclopedia. He was very straight-talking in terms of his reporting. He reported what he saw, not what people wanted to hear.”
Reporting courtesy of Rotorua Daily Post