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Fulham Club Physio to leave

last updated Thursday 28th June 2001, 10:41 PM
Chris Smith
Chris Smith
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Club Physio Chris Smith, along with Chief Scout John Marshall, is the longest serving member of the squad management team at Fulham Football Club. Having joined the Club in October 1990 covering the reserve team, Smith was soon promoted to physio for the first-team in February of 1992.

To most Fulham fans, Smith has become a very recognisable face at Craven Cottage. Having been at the Club during the worst, and now best of times, he has experienced the highs as well as the lows.

It is for precisely this reason that his decision to leave the club was, after so many years of service, one not to be taken lightly. Smith explains his reasons:

"I've got two sons. Matthew, who has just turned 1 and Ben who will be 3 at the end of July. I sat down and talked this over with my wife. Football is a very much a full-time job, it's predominantly a seven-day-a-week job with a lot of travelling.

"Even though I was in a position where I wouldn't have to travel with the team, it still wasn't going to give me the amount of time and commitment to my family that I really feel they deserve."

Smith's first few years at Fulham were not the best in the Club's history. With the threat of non-league football soon to hover over the Club, Smith could have been forgiven for thinking that his stay at Fulham was going to be nothing more than temporary.

"When I started we were in Division Two, it was a couple of seasons before we went down to the Third Division and finished 91st in the league." Smith said.

Little could he have known that from that point onwards Fulham's fortunes were going to take a drastic upward swing. Looking back at the progress which the club has made over recent years, Smith is certain that whilst Fulham's rise through the divisions has been rapid - there is no question of the club over-extending itself or growing too fast for its own good:

"It's been a fantastic change, the Club has come along in leaps and bounds at every level. The current management are ensuring that the infrastructure is in place, and is as good as it needs to be for this club to the successful."

He continued "I've got no doubt that whatever happens on the pitch, the infrastructure will be able to support the Club."

Whilst the Club has changed and improved beyond all recognition over the past decade, Smith's continual presence points to his own excellent credentials as a physio. His ability to adapt and progress at the same rate as the Club is an achievement which very few people in the world of football can boast, both on and off the pitch.

During his time at the Club, Smith has also been witness to a high turnover in managerial staff, yet he firmly believes that the current management team is the best he has ever worked with:

"I've worked under at least ten different managers in my time with the Club. "It's a strange environment at a football club, change is a big factor in every season. I can certainly say that having worked with Jean for a season, he is without doubt the best manager I have ever worked with. "He's brilliant with his staff and a very, very shrewd and clever man. There's no doubt that he will take Fulham to the highest level." Smith said emphatically.

Smith has also picked up many golden memories on his journey from the bottom to the top of the English game. When asked to choose the highlight of his career at the Club, Smith rolls his eyes at the difficulty of the question:

"Last season is going to be hard to beat, getting promoted from Division Two was fantastic, Carlisle away was special too. There are so many different memories, too many to list, but I'll never forget them." Smith said fondly.

As Fulham venture into Premiership territory, Smith's contribution to the club over the past decade should not be underestimated. A good physiotherapist is as valuable a member of the squad as anyone, whilst the plaudits and honours may go to those around him - as unsung heroes go, Smith must be near the top of the list.

Concluding his stay at the club, Smith has a personal message to the fans who have shared his Fulham experience over the past decade:

"It's going to be difficult on Saturdays and Sundays when Fulham are kicking off, there'll be a lump in my throat. "The fans are a big part in Fulham's success, and will continue to be a big part. So let the rest of the Premier league know how good a bunch you are and how much noise you can make."

* Chris leaves Fulham Football Club with the Club's best wishes and hopes that he and his family enjoy every success for the future.
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