Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Tommy Smith's journey is a lesson to young players, says Chris Powell

Huddersfield captain Tommy Smith is a shining example to all young players starting out in the professional game, according to the club's former manager Chris Powell.

Defender Smith, 25, was released by Manchester City earlier in his career but has been integral to the Terriers' remarkable success and is now head coach David Wagner's skipper in the Premier League.

"His journey is a lesson to a lot of young players," Powell, a right-back himself as a player, told Press Association Sport.

"When they're at a big club and they move down they just need to get themselves playing again. He did that and look at him now."

Smith joined City's academy from Tranmere when he was 11 but failed to force his way into the first-team picture under previous managers Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini.

His contract was terminated by mutual consent in the summer of 2012 so he could find another club.

Smith had trials at Oxford before teaming back up with former Huddersfield coach Steve Eyre, who he had worked with at City, and made his league debut in a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday in November 2013.

"Of course Tommy played regularly for myself and always wanted to be the right-back," said Powell, who was sacked by Town and replaced by Wagner in November 2015.

"He wanted the shirt, wanted number two, and then you see him lift the (Sky Bet Championship play-off) trophy alongside Mark Hudson, who came in around my time - it's just really great to see."

Powell said Wagner's side is currently full of players who share Smith's burning desire to succeed in the top flight.

"I'm sure as games go by that they believe they can play at the level. That's key," he added.

"I take it from my own journey as a player when I first played in the Premier League.

"You look at it and admire it from afar and then all of a sudden you're in it and you want to prove to people that you can play at the level - that's a real driving factor for many of Huddersfield's players."

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