Smith wants to do Ipswich proud
FOOTBALL: Tommy Smith knows that the eyes of Ipswich will be on him when the World Cup finals kick-off in South Africa next month.
And the 20-year-old Town defender, who has won a place in the New Zealand 23-man squad, says that he’s looking to do the town – and himself – proud.
Smith will be the first Blues player to appear in the World Cup finals since Matt Holland played for the Republic of Ireland and Amir Karic featured for Slovenia at the 2002 tournament.
Although born in Macclesfield Smith was brought up in New Zealand before joining the Town staff as a 16-year-old.
He is delighted to be picked after choosing the All-Whites ahead of England where he played youth international football.
“Hopefully I’ll do Ipswich proud out there and also do myself proud,” he said.
“I remember Michael Owen’s World Cup goal against Argentina in 1998.
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“That’s the stand-out moment for me.
“I grew up as a Liverpool fan and Michael Owen was one of my heroes.
“To think that I’m now going to be playing in the same situation, on the World Cup stage, is amazing.”
Advised by Town manager Roy Keane, who has been on coaching courses with Kiwi coach Ricki Herbert, to opt for New Zealand, Smith appreciates his good fortune to be on the verge of appearing in one of the biggest specta-cles in world sport.
“I know; I’m very lucky to qualify for a team that’s perhaps easier to get into,” added Smith, who finished the season in the Blues first team following an injury to Damien Delaney.
“Hopefully we can cause a shock.
“If we can get a win, there’s no reason why we can’t progress to the second round.
“The last time New Zealand were at a World Cup they didn’t win a game in 1982 in Spain.
“So that’s the main aim - to get some points on the board.”
Smith meets up with the rest of the squad in Auckland tomorrow week after meeting up with his brother and sister who are both married and living in New Zealand.
A friendly against Australia on May 24 is followed by a training camp in Austria and further friendlies against Serbia and Slovenia, before arriving in South Africa on June 6.
After a warm-up game with Chile, Smith and his team-mates then take on Slovakia, Paraguay and Italy in their group matches.