Former England striker Alan Smith has revealed he is having trouble walking 17 years after breaking his leg in a John Arne Riise free-kick.
The former Manchester United hitman suffered a broken leg and a dislocated ankle when he blocked a Liverpool defender’s shot in the fifth round of the FA Cup against Liverpool at Anfield in 2006.
Smith has revealed he’s still struggling with his injury 17 years later
Sir Alex Ferguson described the incident – in which Smith suffered “about ten needles” in his ankle – as one of the worst injuries he had ever seen.
Smith, 42, made his comeback for United seven months after the horrible injury and continued to play for second division side Notts County until 2018.
And that year, Smith admitted he was still suffering the consequences.
The 19-time England international said: “I knew it was going to be difficult to continue playing given the injury – that’s what the surgeon said.”
“It would have been easier to walk away and people remember you as a top Premier League player.
“But I didn’t want to because I loved playing football. Love for it allows you to break through the pain barrier.”
“Most of the people I’ve played with and managers have respected me for staying in football even though it would have been easy to quit.
“But I dropped back to the championship, to the first division and then to the second division.
“A lot of people asked me, ‘Why do I bother?’ Whether I was making £500 a week or nothing, if people felt I could still contribute, I wanted to keep playing.”
Smith continued Mirror: “The injury has made me a better person after performing so well at such a young age.
“I’ve learned that football can be over at any time. I’m lucky that I played on with sheer courage and determination.
“The good people I met further down the leagues are probably what made me want to stay in football longer. But in the end, the daily training did more harm than good.
“I couldn’t compete at a level that I used to be able to easily handle. I get out of bed and can’t walk properly, my ankle is constantly stiff.”
“In the summer I went running and managed a few kilometers but then stopped and started running because my ankle hurt. I went there again last month and the surgeon said “I don’t want you to walk straight” just because it would damage the joint.
“It’s always difficult to walk away, but when you see someone and they don’t want you to walk away, you know it’s the right decision. I regret nothing. For me, early retirement is the easy option.”
Smith started his career at Leeds and then joined United for £7million in 2004.
Three years later he spent a stint at Newcastle where he played 84 games.
In 2012, Smith left MK Dons and Notts County Divisions.
After retiring after being released from Notts County, he applied for a US visa so he could move to Florida to train young people.
Smith’s dream of coaching in America eventually came true with XL Soccer Academy in Orlando, where he serves as Academy Director.
The Yorkshireman said: “The aim of XL Academy is to produce national team players while also giving every student the opportunity to reach their greatest potential on the pitch and in the classroom.”