Ex-Portsmouth and Spurs star Darren Anderton: Jim Smith was a father figure - my England and Tottenham career owes him so much

Darren Anderton credited ‘father figure’ Jim Smith with a pivotal role in his successful playing career.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 9:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 11:03 am

The attacking midfielder appeared for England 30 times, while occupies a place in Tottenham’s Hall of Fame following a glittering Premier League presence.

However, his breakthrough occurred at Pompey, with Smith overseeing regular participation in the Blues’ first-team.

Having featured largely as a substitute in the previous campaign, it was the manager appointed in the summer of 1992 who truly put his faith in the promising Anderton.

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That 1992-93 seasonn saw him make 54 appearances and score 13 times, including against Liverpool in the 1992 FA Cup semi-final at Highbury.

And from that point a switch to Spurs followed.

Anderton told The News: ‘I turned into a man that year playing under Jim. It was men’s football, you have to grow up and be counted very quickly.

‘He was a big name when he came to Pompey, I looked up to him. As a youngster, all you wanted was a chance,and he told us we would have ours – and did just that.

Darren Anderton celebrates scoring against Liverpool in Pompey's 1992 FA Cup semi-final at Highbury. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Allsport

‘Some coaches say it and don’t actually do it, but Jim did from day one, he believed in his choices.

‘As a youngster coming through, we needed someone like him who is firm with you, but a father figure as well, he genuinely cared, and that is what we all took from him.

‘Everyone knew those youngsters had a chance to have careers, we had potential, and he believed and made sure we gave ourselves a chance.

‘He challenged me to score more goals. When I did, he looked at me and smiled and said “There you go see, it’s not difficult, is it?”.

Darren Anderton, pictured with former Pompey team-mate Andy Awford, has paid tribute to the late Jim Smith. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

‘Jim had a way about him, he would tell you you had done great, but at the same time you were aware he would want you to do even better.

‘When he lived in Spain, I used to see him a lot. It was so nice to sit there, have a beer and talk about the old times, sharing a laugh and joke.

‘He was not only a great manager, but a great man.’

Smith passed away in Oxford at the age of 79, sending football into mourning.

And how Anderton discovered of his passing reflects the bond the former Fratton boss had with his young Pompey charges.

He added: ‘I was getting on a plane on Tuesday when I received phone calls from Awfs and then Cyrille (Darryl Powell).

‘We cared for him so much. When they found out, they called me knowing how much we all loved him.’