Alan Smith opens up on move from Leeds to “intense” Manchester United in 2004

by Harry Robinson

Former-Manchester United striker Alan Smith has spoken about his experience at the club after joining from massive rivals Leeds United.

Smith received huge abuse for the 2004 move having been seen as Leeds through-and-through before his move to Old Trafford from Yorkshire to Lancashire.

It was a controversial move, and Smith believes it was unfair on the coaches who brought him through at Elland Road because they weren’t given credit for moulding him into a player good enough to sign for Man United, a team then easily in the top five sides in the world.

However, it’s unlikely any club’s fans would accept their star man leaving for their rivals. Smith told MirrorFootball that he hoped he was respected for the move by some at Leeds.

“Leaving Leeds to go to Man United caused a hoo-ha but I hope I got respect from the people I worked with and who managed me,” Smith explained.

“I would like to think Leeds could be proud of me going from Leeds to Manchester United because there is not many kids coming through the system from 10 years old who get to sign for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

“But it was a shame that people at the club who brought me through never got much credit for it because it had to be a bit hush-hush and people felt they had to hide it under a bush.”

Once Smith was at United, he was immediately loved by a new set of supporters, gleefully enjoying the fact that he had left their relegated rivals to join the ranks in red.

Now 37, Smith also looked back on the experience of playing with a set of born winners at United at the time, figures like Roy Keane, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.

“I loved it at Manchester United though,” Smith said.

“It was intense and I saw it as a great opportunity to learn from some of the best of the players.

“I was probably a bit of annoyance to them because I wanted to learn and put myself against them in training. I remember my first pre-season I would sit and talk to the best players, like Roy Keane.

“The people and players there, when they had won something they would be so focused on trying to win again. That separated them and why they were the best because they were obsessed with winning.”

It was a common trait in that United squad: an obsession of winning. It went right from the manager to the players and through to the youth ranks. And it allowed United to become known as the biggest club in the world and the country’s most successful team.

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