Player Insights

Newcastle United's Alan Smith gives his exclusive insight into how to become a top footballer

What makes a great player?

I think you have to be an all-rounder these days in terms of fitness, ability and big-game temperament. That makes the outstanding players and they are the ones who perform on the big stage at a consistent level.

When did you realise you could become a top player?

I think you grow into what you become. I have looked back at all videos when I was playing for Leeds at 18 and sometimes I was awful, compared to what I am now. I think as you get older and get that reputation people start to expect and you have to live up those expectations and so I think, it is an old cliché, but you are always learning. The higher up you want to go, there is always another level.

You obviously had ability but how important was training?

I think now more than ever, players are fitter than they ever have been - and everybody knows they have to look after themselves - even from four years ago you will see a massive difference in training - if you don't look after yourself impeccably you will get found out.

Who was your inspiration growing up?

I don't think there was one player, obviously being from Leeds there were a number of their players who you looked up to, who make you want to achieve things but just generally in world football you see players who you have a lot of respect for - but I used to love Jurgen Klinsmann as a kid, more for his celebrations than anything.

What was the best piece of advice you received?

I think personally I am my own biggest critic. People say it is a bad thing but I think it is a good thing as I am never content with what I have got or what I have received; I always want to try and do better in my personal life and football career.

Can you give one top tip for any aspiring player?

I think just make sure you enjoy yourself when you're playing. I think there are a lot of people who put emphasis on everything other than football, and I think the main concern that anyone goes into football for is because they enjoy the competition and enjoy playing. There are a lot of outside interferences and people in the game for the wrong reasons but they get found out in the long-run so advice is to just enjoy your football.

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