Matt's career achieves lift off
Matt Smith admits his life has turned upside down following Latics’ incredible run in the FA Cup with Budweiser.
The 23-year-old Smith, who was still playing non-league football until 20 months ago, describes it as "surreal" to help knockout Nottingham Forest and Liverpool and hold Everton.
Indeed, the 6ft 6in Smith has proved to be a giant figure in every sense in the cup run scoring twice in the dramatic win against Liverpool and getting the equaliser against Everton with almost the last kick of the match to attract a frenzy of media interest.
However, Smith (pictured in the first game against Everton) says he won’t be getting carried as he admits he is still far from the finished article having only come into full-time football aged 22.
Indeed, last season he was even loaned to then npower League Two side Macclesfield Town when he could get a regular game with Latics.
"It was all part of the learning process and gave me an insight into League Two and was part of the steady progression I have made," he explained.
Smith has to pinch himself how recent events have changed his life saying: "The FA Cup has made more people aware of me and the competition has been fantastic to me.
"It shows what two games of that magnitude (Liverpool and Everton) can do. It has also given me confidence and shows there is potential to succeed at a higher level.
"I am not getting carried away that I am a new found world beater, though it makes me realise where I want to be. I will have to work hard to achieve it."
Smith only established a regular place in the side in mid-December when Matt Derbyshire returned to Nottingham Forest at the end of his loan spell.
Smith added that when Latics won at non-league Kidderminster Harriers in the first round of the FA Cup he never for one moment envisaged it would be the start of this great adventure.
And he says he will never forget the memories of the great cup run, especially the vital goals he has contributed.
Smith says that while he has been recognised for his cup exploits – and also while out and about such as at a recent concert watching The Killers - he also badly wants recognition for his goalscoring in npower League One.
He admitted he has had to deal with doubters who did not believe in his ability but he remains philosophical saying football is a game which is all about opinions.
Smith continued: "I always believed I had the potential to succeed as did people close to me, especially my dad (Ian was a striker for Queen's Park, Hearts and Birmingham City).
"I always believed I had the potential to play at a higher level, though was under no illusion it would take a lot of hard work to achieve.
"I have been here little over 18 months and come on great strides, but there is a lot more to come.
"I don’t want to live off these two games and hope it is just the start of something big."