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By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Tottenham debutant Adam Smith had to wait 14 years for his big day, but his dream finally came true on Sunday as he took to the field at White Hart Lane.
Injuries to both Kyle Walker and Younes Kaboul forced Harry Redknapp to survey his bench again.
And in the 76th minute the young right-back Smith, from Leytonstone in east London, crossed the white line and made his bow for the Lilywhites in the Premier League.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to get my debut, and to finally do it is great. I’m proud of myself,” he told London24. “My whole family are Spurs fans and I grew up watching people like Stephen Carr – I used to love him.
“I’ve been at the club since I was seven, so to come on is an honour. I’ve had to wait about 14 years – something ridiculous like that!”
Touchingly, Smith’s name was ringing around the Lane within two minutes of his arrival – and that was followed by a second song for him in the closing stages.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’d just come on and they were already singing my name!” he said. “That’s Tottenham fans for you, they’re brilliant.
“For them to do that was really nice of them. The end of the season couldn’t have been better from a personal point of view, so I’m buzzing.”
It’s just a shame that his family weren’t there to see it.
“I can’t believe it, they went on holiday a few days before, so they must be gutted,” he said. “That’s the only down side, that they weren’t there.
“I found out I was in the squad the day before the game. The list is pinned up on the wall and you just look for your name, and mine was there, but they were already on holiday so I couldn’t tell them.
“You always think that you might get on, and obviously the boys are tired from a long season. Younes got a little niggle so that was my opportunity.”
Sunday’s appearance was Smith’s 78th league game – and his first as a substitute – following loan spells at Wycombe, Torquay, Bournemouth, MK Dons and Leeds.
It was a familiar story for a Tottenham youngster, and the likes of Jake Livermore, Danny Rose and Steven Caulker are all well acquainted with the loan system.
Having spent the vast majority of his early career in League One and League Two, Smith joined Leeds at the end of January and seemed set for a run in the Championship.
The England Under-21 international made three starts for the Whites in the second tier, but spent less than a month at Elland Road.
His fellow Spurs loanee Andros Townsend switched from Leeds to Birmingham amid rumours of a falling-out with the new manager Neil Warnock, and Smith was recalled to Spurs Lodge.
“That was a little bit disappointing, but I thought I was going to get a chance here at Tottenham – and I did, so it’s worked out for me,” said Smith.
“It’s been a frustrating journey, it’s been up and down. You think you’re not going to get a chance [at Spurs] and then you think you are. It’s been a long ride so it was great to get on at the weekend.
“There are a lot of good players in the Tottenham reserves and the youth team, and we do produce a lot of players. It’s just about getting a chance really, because Tottenham’s a massive club with a lot of players.
“I’ll come back for pre-season and see what the club want me to do. If they want me to go out on loan obviously I’ll do that, and if they want me to stay then I’ll be happy to stay.”
As an England Under-21 international, Smith has an outside chance of claiming a spot in the Great Britain squad for the London 2012 Olympics – but he admits he isn’t holding his breath.
“I think I’m on the 80-man short-list but it’s a big short-list so I’m not expecting anything much,” he said. “There are players on there who have been playing in the Premier League so I’m not really expecting to go to the Olympics. I’m mostly looking to get into the Under-21 squads next season.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs