Tommy Smith eyeing unique footballing double

PELE and Diego Maradona only played in one, while the great George Best didn’t even manage that.

But Tommy Smith is anticipating a fantastic footballing double of playing in a World Cup and an Olympic Games – and all by the tender age of 22.

Smith is set to extend his season throughout the summer by helping New Zealand try and qualify for their second successive World Cup finals.

But he won’t be stopping there, with the centre-back then targeting London 2012 and a place in his country’s Under-23s squad.

Smith said: “Obviously it’s a massive sporting event. Having played in a World Cup already, to add the Olympics to my CV would be a great achievement for me personally.”

The ‘Oly-Whites’ – as they are known – qualified for the Games at the weekend and Smith is set to be named in the final squad – despite being withdrawn from qualifiers by Paul Jewell.

Out-of-contract in the summer, the centre-back could go into the tournament with a new club. But he still had no problems with Jewell preventing him from playing in the qualifiers due to the marathon amount of games Ipswich faced this month.

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Smith said: “The club wouldn’t release me for the Olympic qualifiers which is understandable because I would have missed five games. I’m absolutely fine with that because I’d rather be playing for Ipswich every week than playing in a qualifying tournament. But I think we could have quite a strong team in the Games.”

While most Town players have more than three months off before the end of this season and the start of next, Smith is anticipating a busy summer.

He added: “We’ve got World Cup qualifiers in June and with that being off-season I don’t have any problem playing in them.

“I haven’t spoken to the (New Zealand Olympics) manager personally, but I think he understands that club commitments come first and hopefully it won’t impact on his future selections.”

Most Town fans will be hoping Smith takes his place in the London showpiece having committed his future at Ipswich.