Alan Smith made 217 appearances for Leicester City between 1982 and 1987, scoring 84 goals, most of them in the old First Division. An elegant forward who was good in the air and on the ground, he formed an extremely effective partnership with Gary Lineker at Filbert Street in the 1980s.
Playing as a semi-professional for Southern League side Alvechurch while studying Modern Languages at Coventry Polytechnic, he signed for Leicester in June 1982 for a fee of £15,000, eventually rising to £22,000. He was Jock Wallace’s last signing before the Scot abruptly left the club in July 1982.
The new manager Gordon Milne put Alan straight into the team and his first season saw Leicester City promoted back to the top flight. He was brave, a hard worker, a good header, and a creator of chances. Elegantly displaying his excellent ball control and vision, he formed a good partnership with Lineker, with their differing styles of play complementing each other. He also benefitted from the crosses provided by winger Steve Lynex.
Smith, Lineker and Lynex scored 158 goals between them in the three years they played together until Lineker transferred to league champions Everton in June 1985. Lineker’s departure put even more pressure on Alan to score and in the next two seasons he scored a total of 36 league goals in a side struggling in the First Division.
Smith made his name at Leicester before a move to Highbury.
His performances attracted the attention of Arsenal and in March 1987, he transferred to Highbury for a fee of £800,000, but he was immediately loaned back to Leicester City for the rest of the season to help the Club in its unsuccessful fight against relegation.
This arrangement resulted in Alan playing for his old team against his new team at Highbury in April 1987 and being cheered by the fans from both sides. An honest and modest player he was only booked once in his five seasons at Filbert Street.
At Arsenal, playing for manager George Graham, Alan won two league titles in 1989 and 1991, the FA Cup and the Football League Cup in 1993 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994. He also won the Golden Boot in 1989 and 1991. In addition, he played for England on 13 occasions between 1988 and 1992, partnering his old Leicester City team-mate Lineker in 10 of these internationals.
In July 1995, when he was 32, a knee injury forced Alan to retire having scored a career total of 199 league and cup goals together with two goals for England. He then developed a career in journalism and TV work, mainly with Sky TV, for whom he still works today.
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