Smith: All Whites were prepared to die for each other

IPSWICH TOWN: Tommy Smith says that he and his New Zealand team mates were prepared to ‘die for each other’ during their participation in the World Cup finals in South Africa.

And the Blues central defender stressed that it was their team spirit that helped get the All Whites through their three-game qualifying group without tasting defeat.

Now back in Ipswich after New Zealand were knocked out after drawing their trio of games, Smith, 20, is having a Spanish holiday before returning to training in a couple of weeks.

He enjoyed the World Cup experience immensely and says that it has improved him as a player and that he will be fighting for a regular first team place at Portman Road this season.

“We proved a lot of doubters wrong,” said Smith. “We showed that we could cut it with the rest.

“It was a far off dream to play in the World Cup as a boy, and it proved to be an amazing experience.

“Drawing with 2006 champions Italy was brilliant, and much of it was down to the bond we had.

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“Our team spirit was massive and there were no egos in the squad – with games of golf and a few pranks keeping spirits high.

“Out on the pitch we felt as though we would die for each other, which is perhaps different to how England played.

“I can’t speak for what went on in their camp, but I read things since I’ve been back and you need togetherness.

“Perhaps big egos in the England camp did not help their cause.”

Smith is the proud owner of the shirt of top Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro, who lifted the World Cup four years ago.

And he says that he had mixed feelings at the final whistle of the Paraguay game while his abiding memory is of walking out before the first match against Slovakia and standing to the national anthem.

“I was so proud of our achievements to remain unbeaten, but part of me was frustrated that we couldn’t have found just one more goal from somewhere to take us in the next stage.

“I have come back a better equipped player and felt that nine times out of 10 the referee would not given the penalty I conceded against Italy.

“If a spot kick was given every time for an incident like that there would be 20 in a game.”

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