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'My goal output just fell off a cliff'

Alan Smith

Alan Smith had always been used to hitting the back of the net - so when the goals dried up, it was wasn't easy for our former number nine.

Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, Smith explained how his poor form affected his self-belief towards the end of his career.
 
"My confidence gradually dipped to the point where it was on the floor," he said. "My goal output fell off a cliff, which was so upsetting having been a regular goalscorer for all those years before.

 
"It was a miserable time. Not only was I going into matches with very little confidence, snatching at chances, but in training too. It had become a bit of a chore. I went to see a sports psychologist and he gave me one or two pointers, but it didn't work. 
 
"I think now you'd give it a lot more attention. I didn't really speak to the gaffer about it, he must have wondered what was going on. He'd drop you and he'd urge you to do better, but you'd never really have a heart to heart in a human way, in the way that perhaps you would now. 
 
"We look at the mental health side of things a lot more [now]. I just regret that I wasn't able to fix it and I didn't do better in that regard. My career kind of dribbled to a close in that fashion. 
 
“Thankfully the Cup Winners Cup [in 1994] was a highlight in the middle of it. People say you shouldn't have regrets, but I can't help but regret that time when I couldn't fix it and I wasn't enjoying my football at all. It is upsetting to look back on.
 
"It's easy to look elsewhere and blame other things. We weren't playing with as much width, it was a more direct game, Wrighty making runs over the top. I think I looked elsewhere too much for a solution, you know? The crosses aren't coming in, this that and the other. You've got to look in the mirror and think, 'How can I fix this? What can I do?' Maybe I didn't do that enough, I don't know."

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