Smalling, who grew up supporting Arsenal, chose Manchester United over his boyhood club in January 2010 and has gone from strength to strength since moving to Old Trafford.
“It’s true it wasn’t long ago that I was playing non-league football,” said Smalling. “Every kid has got that dream to play at this level when they start playing football – but it wasn’t a dream I really thought would come true. I managed to play my football and I managed to get the odd trial when I was finishing school and luckily it paid off – but I couldn’t have dreamed of being where I am now. I think it shows anyone who gets into the game that it is never too late. It also means there is a lot more from me to come because I’ve only been in the game for a few years and I’m just striving for more.”
Smalling says he has had benefited from learning from the likes of Rio and Vidic, and hopes that one day he can be passing on this knowledge to the next generation.
“I think it’s good for me to be able to learn from Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic,” he said. “These are invaluable years. Hopefully, one day when I become established then people can look up to me, but these are the years that I’m taking advantage of now.”
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