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James Crawley


Posted Saturday, January 13th 2018

WellRed meets: Korey Smith

Reliant Robin Korey Smith speaks to WellRed as he prepares to line up against his former employers, Norwich City.

The Canaries are on a four-game unbeaten run and are undefeated against City since 2009.

Can the Robins hero, who recently dumped Manchester United of the Carabao Cup, turn City's fortunes around today?

You spent the early part of your career at Norwich City. What do you remember of your time there?

It was a big part of my life obviously and they were the first professional club that I played for. It was a whole new world for me, entering that professional environment at 15 or 16-years old and moving away from my family.

But it’s a lovely place where I enjoyed living and I had some great years after breaking into the first team. We won promotions and I have nothing but good memories of my time there.

I met my partner Hatti there as well and I still have friends there so it will always be a huge part of my life.

How did Norwich City spot you?

I come from a place called Hatfield where I was coached in primary school by a man called Laird. One day, we were about 15, my friend DJ knocked for me and we rode up to the university which had 3G pitches. So we’d climb over the fences and sneak in to try and play football up there.

One time we were up there, we were seen by Laird and he told us about the development centre which was looking to recruit young footballers from the London area. They were looking for people within a two-hour radius to try and get trials for Norwich City. He said to both of us to go down that week for a training session, so we did.

I must have done well in that session because he came over and said to me he was going to get me a trial at Norwich City. I was phoned later that evening and he told me I would be playing against West Ham that Saturday.

I played in a five-game trial over six weeks and within six months I was moving to Norwich! To be honest, it all came out of nowhere. I was doing my GCSEs at the time and I moved as soon as I left school. It was a crazy time.

I was so lucky that my friend came and called for me that day for a kick about!

Korey Smith struck the late winner against Manchester United in December

The club must have played a huge part in your development and getting you to where you are now?

The club was brilliant. It was different back then as being in the youth team we we were all given jobs: before training we would have to clean the ball, the bibs, the changing rooms, take the cones and do all of that. You weren’t allowed to leave until everything had been done. It was a bit old school in that way but it was good.

Everyone was treated well and it was a great time of my life. I met some great people, good coaches and made friends for life.

Who were your idols growing up?

Thierry Henry was my favourite players when I used to watch Arsenal but when I was really young, I would watch my uncle Mark Smith play at Stevenage Borough who were in the Conference. I would regularly watch him and he would take me to the changing rooms and it was great as a kid. He was definitely one of my idols in the footballing world.

You played for you current boss Lee Johnson while at Oldham Athletic before your move to City, what was he like to play under then?

He knew of me through a loan spell at Yeovil Town when I played for his dad, Gary. Lee must have known he was getting the Oldham Athletic job and I went on loan there for a couple of months. I really enjoyed my few months there to keep Oldham Athletic up.

At the end of the season my contract at Norwich City expired and Lee convinced me that Oldham was the right place for me and he was right. He wanted to see me play regularly and I was made captain at Oldham Athletic.

This is a preview of the full interview, which can be found inside today's WellRed programme. Available to buy for just £3.