We caught up with a man who's becoming a bit of a regular on SoccerBible, to hear his thoughts ahead of 'The Chance' Global Finals and of course ahead of Manchester United's 2012/13 Premier League season. Chris Smalling's path to becoming a Premier League and International footballer hasn't followed the normal route, and has given Chris a slightly different perspective on the game...
In under two and a half years, Chris has risen from non-league Maidstone United to Manchester United. SoccerBible caught up with the England defender at
United’s Academy in Carrington after he had spent time training with the three
UK finalists of Nike’s The Chance.
Smalling made his full International debut in September 2011 against
Bulgaria. Injury cut short his United League campaign and he missed out on
representing his country at Euro 2012 and the Olympics.
Chris spoke to SoccerBible about The Chance and also told us of his
determination to be fit and available for the new season at Old Trafford.
Tell us about the training session you shared with the three UK finalists of
The Chance. Did you pass on anything specific to them?
Chris Smalling: We did some drills with a United coach. I think that will be really good for
them. They are already very good players. I wanted to pass on how it is for me
up against some of the players here, how they react to certain situations and
how they turn to make things difficult for defenders.
The finalists have enjoyed a yoga session. Is yoga
something you and your team-mates are keen on?
CS: The lads thought yoga would be something that older players do. But a lot
of us young ones do it now. It helps keep us in shape! I tried it for the first time toward the end of last year and it was a lot better than I expected. It’s a good exercise for your core and overall stretching.
Ryan Giggs enjoys his yoga. He's a real legend and any pointers you can pick up from him is a good thing.
Are there any players at Old Trafford that you look up to as role models?
CS: The longevity of Scholes and Giggs’ careers is something that you can
only dream of. I’ve admired since was a kid. Having so many good players to
look up to will hopefully help me focus and make me be a better player.
Is there one moment in your career where you felt you had ‘The Chance’ or
your big break in football?
CS: When I was at England Schoolboys I had a few opportunities to go and
train with different teams. I was already playing for Maidstone, but this gave
me the opportunity to be watched.
It’s about that for the lads in The Chance too. It’s a big opportunity for them to
Have you set any personal goals for the new season?
CS: At the minute, it’s just about getting fit. At the end of last year I took a
knock in a Swansea game and that derailed my summer a little. I’m on the way
to recovery. I should be ready for the start of the season.
With your England call-up last season, what has Roy Hogson said to you?
CS: Making my England debut last season was great. Roy spoke to me
about my injury which unfortunately was not the greatest timing. He spoke
about the importance of getting fit for the new season. I know there's a busy
International schedule. I’m confident that if I can stay fit, I can have an impact.
Did you manage to have a any time off pre-season to relax despite your
CS: I was at the training ground most of the time during the close season. I
wanted to make sure that by the time the lads arrived back, I would be raring to
go. Luckily that's paid off.
Is there an additional motivation for United this year after the events of the
two final minutes of last year's Premier League season?
CS: The hunger is always there, but the way it ended and who it went to is
going to drive us on that another notch. We're as hungry as ever to make sure
we come back with at least one or two trophies.
The Chance Finalists have been living like professional
footballers. We’d like to know what life is like for you off the field. Do you ever
play as yourself as FIFA?
CS: I play FIFA non-stop. If I play as Man Utd, I always make sure I'm in the
team at centre back – there's Rio, Vidic and everyone, but I have to make room
for myself! I often go on long runs up the field and pop up with a few goals.
This is something I'm hoping to replicate in real life soon.
What car are you driving at the moment
CS: I've got a Porsche Cayenne. It's black with silver trim.
Do you have a favourite watch?
CS: When Paul Scholes had his testimonial, he gave us each a red and black
Breitling watch which is something I really like.
Where’s your favourite place in the world for a holiday?
CS: Jamaica. You can have a lot of fun with the watersports, or you can chill
on the beaches!
Where are you living at the moment, is it close to your team-mates?
CS: I live in Bowdon, Cheshire. A lot of the younger lads live quite close. It’s
good for when new lads come because we're all in the same area. I've got a
cinema screen for playing FIFA and watching films, so a lot of us will often be
stuck in that room playing FIFA.
SoccerBible will be in attendance to keep you updated with news of the Global Final and how the UK
contestants fair up against the World’s brightest football talents. It's the chance of a lifetime, let us know what you think and join the conversation online, on Twitter and on Facebook.