Guest Series: Neil Smith Best XI

Neil Smith

Earlier this year I made the trip to Hayes Lane, home of Bromley FC, for a sit down chat with the boss Neil Smith, the third National League manager I’ve been lucky enough to sit down so far.

Since then I’ve kept in touch with all three guys and last week we saw the best eleven players Eastleigh boss Ben Strevens had played with. This week Neil has put together his team and boy you won’t be disappointed when you see the players in his team that he has played with! Anyway, over to Neil for his selection:

‘To name the best eleven players I’ve played with is very hard and I was lucky enough to play with some tremendous players. Just looking at keepers I played with some fantastic ones, international goalkeepers in Ian Walker at Tottenham, Maik Taylor with Northern Ireland and Fulham, but to kick things off my number one is:

Jim Stanard -I played with Jim at Gillingham where he kept (I think it’s still the club record) 28 sheets in a season. I think we only let in seven goals at home that season and we went on to win promotion.

Steve Finnan – Played with Steve at Fulham where he was a right wing back and very tenacious. He was very fit, constantly up and down the line and never stopped. He looked after himself and was a fantastic pro, lucky enough to then go on to join Liverpool and win the Champions League.

Rufus Brevett – Rufus like Steve was a wing back at Fulham but on the left hand side, also very fit and created lots of goals. One of the hardest players I had the pleasure of being in the same team as, you didn’t want to be playing against him!

Philippe Albert – When Philippe came to Fulham he’d obviously come from Newcastle where he had been an absolute legend. He came in, he adjusted well and got on with the boys, he was an pleasure to play with and an outstanding player. I never thought I’d be playing with someone like Philippe when I first arrived at Fulham.

Chris Coleman – Fulham signed Chris from Blackburn and was one of the most expensive players to arrive at Craven Cottage at that time. Straight away he was named captain, he was a leader of men, led from the front and was fantastic on and off the pitch with his encouragement of everyone. He was strong in the air, quick across the ground and loved a tackle!

Kit Symons – Kit was signed from Manchester City and arrived at the same time as Chris, he was a Welsh international playing at the heart of our defence. Kit was fantastic in respect he read the game so well, again strong in the air and going in for a tackle. He scored vital goals when we needed one and again in the changing room he was a character popular amongst the boys and something that was needed when we won the championship.

Peter Beardsley – When we signed Peter at Fulham I thought it was a joke when I heard it! Someone of Peter’s experience playing for England in a World Cup semi-final, and the players he played with, it was outstanding for a club like Fulham at the time to sign him and yes he was coming to the end of his career, but for me it wasn’t just what he was doing on the pitch, it was the fact he was there for you to speak to, to ask advice, then on the pitch he would be constantly talking to you and running around as if he was still 19 years old, all because he wanted to do the best for Fulham Football Club and to help his team-mates.

Lee Clark – Paul Bracewell brought Lee Clark to Fulham, unfortunately to replace me! We played together in pre-season and then I couldn’t argue with someone like Lee taking my place. He was an outstanding player and again another northerner, an ex Newcastle player who was a great character in the dressing room and improved the team. A box to box midfielder with great energy and also popped up with goal every now and then.

Paul Peschisolido – When Pesh signed for us at Fulham he came with the reputation of scoring goals, and he certainly lived up to that! He was lively, kept running, chased lost causes and always came up with either a tap in or a fantastic strike like he did against Liverpool at Anfield. He was also quite a character who worked his socks off. I know Kevin took him under his wing and helped him, but he was already an outstanding player and again I’m very lucky to have played with someone like Pesh.

Paul Walsh – Paul was at Spurs when I was there along with so many talented players. I played with him in some pre-season games and I couldn’t believe how good he was. I had seen him play for Liverpool  and then Spurs, so when I got the chance to play in the same team as Paul you then really realise even more how good he was and probably should’ve been selected for England a few more times.

Dennis Bailey – Dennis signed for Gillingham from QPR. It was a massive signing for the club at the time bearing in mind the Gills had only been saved from going out of business the season before, but between Tony Pulis and Paul Scally, they managed to get him in. A great player who scored goals and set them up as well, he would work so hard for the team as well.’

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