We have the honour of interviewing Swindon Town midfielder, Tom Smith, not once, but twice, in this one of article. The 19 year old has had a promising start to his footballing career, with first team debuts at Swindon and a successful loan spell at Waterford, Ireland First Division.
This is a very special article, we have never had an interview with a player (or anyone for that matter) twice in the same article. A lot changes in football and this is the same with footballers. The first time we spoke to Tom, he was slowly breaking in to the first team, now in part two, we get an update on his career, his loan spell and his style of play.
The first interview was taken place at the end of October, 2016. Tom was making a few appearances off the bench and sometimes starting. It wasn’t until the beginning of January where Tom wasn’t making the squad, and this would definitely have played a factor in the loan move he takes later on in the year. Tom started for Swindon 4 times in the league and came off the bench in four games, during the 2016/17 campaign.
Below is part one of our two part interview, enjoy.
What was it like making your debut for Swindon at an extremely young age (17 – correct me if that’s wrong)?
17 was the age of my debut yes, was an incredible feeling making my debut in the league in front of such a big crowd at Preston. Was great to feel involved and part of a first team environment at a young age.
How delighted were you at the opportunity to sign a new contract this season keeping you at Swindon?
Signing my first professional contract almost completed a perfect 2015/16 for me. I achieved a lot in this year in terms of developing as a player, getting stronger, performing better in games and being involved in 3 games. I picked up a injury in December of last year which lead to an operation (groin). All of the high and lows grounded me into the players that I am this season.
What was it like scoring your first senior goal, in the 3-1 win over Crewe, back in September 2015?
Scoring the goal in my second league outing (which felt like my first proper app for Swindon) felt unbelievable. At the time of the game we were losing, I helped the team draw level and eventually go on to win the game. It gave me a massive confidence boost and kept me positive throughout the whole of that season.
What’s your plans for the future, in terms of first team experience or being sent on loan? What personal aims do you have for this season and for your career?
My plan at the start of the season was to be involved in as many first team squads as I could. As time went on, I found myself playing games in preseason , then being involved in multiple league games. Currently I’ve played 4 times this season which for me is a huge achievement. As for me if I can improve on what I’ve done the previous year that’s great. From here I want to continue playing in the cup games and as many league games as I can when given the chance. As a young player when given the chance you need to make sure first and for most you work hard and secondly put in a good performance to gain trust from the manager.
It’s fair to say you’ve spent the majority of your career at Swindon. It must be pretty special being born in Swindon and playing for your local team?
Yeah I’ve been at Swindon since the age of 8, and now being in the first team and when given the chance to play in front of our home fans it’s unbelievable feeling. As I used to watch Swindon a lot and have a lot of vision of playing on the county at a professional level one day.
Tell us something about yourself (some of our readers may be unfamiliar with your position, life etc.) What players do you admire and look up to?
Paul Scholes, don’t really have to say anymore. I also look at individual clips of players in my positions from league one and the championship.
Who’s been your biggest influence in terms of player development? Who’s been your toughest opponent you’ve faced?
In terms of player development my ex under 18s coach Scott Lindsey had a huge influence on and off the pitch for me. During my time as a scholar, the sports and conditioning coach tom Huelin gave me knowledge in the gym that helped me physically develop and advice on nutrition. Both in which are very important components in becoming a good athlete within football. Currently my coaches in the first team, Luke Williams and Ross Embleton have continued this developed by giving me individual coaching on and off the pitch. This includes going through clips from games and analysing these in detail picking out positives and areas to improve, which is vital to me as a young player learning. Most of all they have trusted me to play in first team matches which is a great positive.
I would say the toughest opponents I’ve played is Swansea this pre season, playing against players like Routledge , Fer, and Ayew. But this is what you would expect from premier league teams.
As you’re a midfielder and our name coincides with this – Have you ever Dictated The Game?
I would say the moment when I took things into my own hands at first team level was the goal at Crewe. It helped the team to go on a gain the 3 points after drawing level.
What’s it been like, being in around the first team at such a young age? Does it add extra pressure to you, or motivate you?
I think being a 18 year old and training with the first team every single day is nothing but a positive step in your career. Surrounded by a mix of younger and older pros allows you to learn things and gain experience so that your ready to make the step up when your required. I think there is an element of pressure, but that’s just natural in everyone. I almost feel like you have nothing to lose but everything to gain when playing. But as a younger pro I’m always striving to be in that starting line up at first team level, as that’s where you want to be.
Finally, if everything goes perfectly, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It’s hard to say exactly as that’s a long time a way. However like I’ve said before I want to continue to achieve something better each year of being a professional, putting my own stamp on things and hopefully making a career out of it.
The second part of the interview was taken in July, after his loan spell with Waterford in Ireland. It has been an incredible season for Tom, breaking in to the first team and after a very successful spell at Waterford is in contention to get himself on the team sheet this year. The young midfielder was instrumental in their title hopes, playing every game until the end of May where he was recalled.
Waterford currently sit first in the Republic of Ireland first division and look set to gain promotion to the Irish Premier League. Tom Smith also scored in a 2-0 win, only scoring one goal, however played a big part in the early stages of the title campaign.
Some of the readers might not know much about you, how would you describe yourself as a player?
I’d say I’m box to box central midfielder who is hard in a tackle , wins the ball back, love to drive with the ball and get into space to shoot.
From when you started playing up until now, have you always played in the same position? Have you ever considered changing positions?
As a young kid I played in many positions such as, striker, winger, full back and centre back. But as I got older I found my position as a central midfielder. I’d say I’m a utility player in the sense that I can play across the back four ( played left back a couple times last season for the first team).
Regarding the future, do you see yourself as a fairly stable player who will spend a lot of time at one club, or do you think you’ll move around a bit until you find something perfect?
It’s not something I really think about now, I play football because I enjoy it. Of course I want to get the the highest level possible but that’s something that comes with hard work. In terms of staying at one club, that would suit me more.
You scored a goal on loan at Waterford, I bet that was quite special. How was the experience, living in Ireland and being joined by Swindon teammate Jake Evans?
Ireland was a great experience, at the time I went I needed to get out and play men’s football. I grew in confidence and it allowed me to express myself ( playing every game). Sometimes it was tough staying away from home more than a week but looking back it was all good life experience and puts me in good steed moving on.
You’ve played in the Irish second division, and the English third division so far in your career, how do the two compare to each other in terms of quality of football?
The two don’t really Compare if I’m honest. More football is played in league one than the Irish league. However in the first division it was very physical so in that respect it was similar. Also the standard of players your playing against is a lot lower but it’s still challenging due to the pitches and the opposition working hard to press you and win the ball back. So I defiantly gained something from going out there.
You spent the end of last season on loan at Waterford in the Ireland First Division, how do you feel this has contributed to your development as a football player?
I’d say I answered this in the previous two questions. But most of all I’d say it’s improved my confidence as a player, on the ball and off the ball. Which is a good thing going back to Swindon town.
What are your personal aims going into next season?
My aims for this season is to again break into the team and play as many games as I can. Once I’m playing games then I obviously aim to make an impact within the team.
What are your goals in your Footballing career?
My aim is to continue to be a professional footballer, I’m never going to rest on what I have. I believe I need to do more and once I have achieved, the same needs to happen again. Football is a short career and I believe you need to continue to prove people wrong and make a name for yourself.
If you had a choice of a league to go to, where would you go?
Obviously you aim the highest you can go which is the premier league in England. But if by the end of my career I’m playing in the championship I’ll be happy. But I think for now it’s not really something I’m thinking about. I’m just focused on this season with Swindon town.
Although your playing days have only just begun and you have a long career in front of you, have you thought about a post football career, would you like to stay in the game or venture elsewhere?
I’m very much always thinking about what I can be doing in my spare time and after football. I sit down a lot and think about potential business ideas.
Unfortunately Swindon Town were relegated in the 2016/17 campaign, however they have made a bright start to League Two. Their opening game of the season was away to Carlisle, where they took a 2-1 win back to Swindon. Tom was named as an unused substitution. Swindon also took on Championship team Norwich in the Football League cup where they lost 3-2, after being 1-0 up. Tom Smith played 50 minutes before he was substituted in the 50th minute for Iandolo.
We want to thank Tom Smith for sparing the time on two separate occasions to answer our questions. Tom is a great person, and we feel privileged that he has spared us the time – he has a very bright future. We will certainly follow Tom’s footballing journey, wherever it may take him and wish Swindon Town a very successful campaign, where hopefully they gain promotion back in to League One.
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