Arsenal’s Century Club – Alan Smith
Alan Martin Smith: born 21 November 1962 in Hollywood, Worcestershire.
A striker, Smith started his career at non-league Alvechurch in north Worcestershire. He then signed professional forms with Leicester City in June 1982. In his first season, he scored 13 goals in a partnership with Gary Lineker, as the Foxes won promotion to the First Division. He spent five seasons at Leicester, scoring 84 goals in 217 appearances. He was transferred to Arsenal in March 1987, but then loaned back to Leicester for the rest of the season.
His first league goal for the club came on 29 August 1987, when he netted a hat-trick in a 6–0 game versus Portsmouth at Highbury. Smith scored the first goal in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Anfield in May 1989 which saw them lift that season’s league championship. With Arsenal he then won another league title in 1991 as well as a League and FA Cup Double two years later. He also struck the sole goal in Arsenal’s 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final victory against Parma. Smith was Arsenal’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons, and the First Division top scorer of the 1988–89 season with 23 goals. He also went on to win another Golden Boot in 1991.
He received just one yellow card throughout his entire career.
Whilst at and away from Highbury, Smith scored a sum of 115 goals for Arsenal. All in all Smith has been ranked at 27th within the club’s listing of the 50 greatest Gunners of all time.
First Division: 1988–89, 1990–91
FA Cup: 1992–93
League Cup: 1992–93
UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1993–94
First Division Golden Boot: 1988–89, 1990–91
Alan waited until he was 55 before publishing Heads Up, an honest reflection on his life and career in football and, subsequently, journalism.
Intriguingly for Arsenal fans, this approach leads to a revelation about Smith’s “uncomfortable” relationship with star striker Ian Wright, whose arrival at Highbury coincided with a decline in his fellow-centre-forward’s form.
“My relationship with Ian Wright that was something that I’ve never really spoken to Ian about, but to get it down the page it was quite cathartic,” he says.
“I certainly wasn’t enjoying the football at the time. Wrighty came in, and he did more than anybody thought he would do, he became the club’s top goal scorer and he’s rightfully a legend. In life sometimes things don’t happen like you’d thought they would. I thought we’d make a great partnership, and we didn’t really.
“I have had a chat with Ian [about the book] and he appreciated it. He didn’t say too much. He was very good about it.”
Smith’s book includes reflections on Arsenal’s 1990-91 title win, in which he finished the division’s top scorer with 22 goals. Despite losing only one game fewer, that Gunners team has enjoyed nothing like the reverence afforded Arsene Wenger’s unbeaten class of 2003-04.
He scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Coventry City at Highbury on July 11th 1992.
|Arsenal’s Century Club|
|** Games played to reach 100 goals.|