By Steve Manning
Matt Smith – Dons history maker
Smith is busy packing his bags for the middle-east and Wales’ Qatar 2022 adventure .. but how much do you know about the boy from the black country?
Starting out at WBA before switching to Manchester City in 2013, Matt spent 5 years at the City Football Group academy taking in spells at Dutch outfit FC Twente, QPR, Charlton Athletic, Doncaster Rovers, and Hull City on-loan amassing 104 appearances in that time notching 3 goals.
Born in Redditch, Smith qualifies for Rob Page’s side through his grandfather who originates from the Gwent region. His performances for his adoptive country has earned World Cup recognition for our number seven – and his inclusion has meant for the first time ever Milton Keynes Dons will have a current contracted player at the World Cup finals!
It was during his period of loan travelling that Smith earned his first senior Wales call-up on 20 May 2018, and he made his debut in a friendly, from the bench against Mexico in a goalless draw, replacing Tom Lawrence as an 81st minute substitute.
The diminutive midfield maestro has since gone onto make 19 competitive appearances for The Dragons, and has featured in 5 qualifiers for the Cymru nation, during their run to this winter’s tournament.
Anyone who reads my columns will know that I like to break down the simple stats in most things I write about, looking at Smith’s time at the Dons there hasn’t been many goals to mention – just two infact – but don’t let that fact detract from the effect he has had when he has pulled on Dons’ colours this season.
He is more likely to be involved in team passages of play than in at the sharp end of a cross, or a defence splitting pass in all honesty and its his vision that sets him apart from others – constantly looking to bring his teammates into a game, and it’s that attitude and commitment that has seen Matt dig out his passport for Qatar 2022.
Let’s look at the stats:
Matt Smith – International Fact File
Wales Senior Caps: 19 Goals: 0
Times named in squad: 35
Competitive Debut: 06/09/2018 – Nations League Group B4 – Wales 4 Rep. Of Ireland 1 – used substitute 67th minute.
Latest International appearance : 22/09/2022 – Nations League Group A4 – Belgium 2 Wales 1 – subbed off 64th minute.
International record in full – Competitive Caps Only.
Number of starts for Wales = 12.
Number of times appeared from the subs bench = 7.
Number of times unused – 16.
Positions started in for The Dragons: Defensive midfielder, right midfield/winger, central midfielder.
Dons record this season:
Starts made for Liam Manning’s Dons side:
Named in matchday squad: 16 times
Starts for Dons in 2022/23: 8 starts
Appeared as a substitute: 7 sub apps
Unused sub: 1 time unused.
Goals scored: 2 (vs Oxford Utd W 2-1 – away 17th Sept, and vs Peterborough Utd L 2-3 – home 1st October)
Assists made: 1 (vs Port Vale W 2-1 – home 16th Aug)
EFL Carabao Cup
Starts made for The Dons:1 (vs Watford W 2-0 – away 23rd Aug)
Substitute apps: 2 (vs Sutton Utd W 1-0 (9th Aug) 78th minute. And vs Morecambe W 2-0 (8th Nov) 66th Minute.)
No goals or assists in the EFL Cup.
EFL Papa John’s Trophy
Starts made for The Dons: 3 (vs Cheltenham Town L 1-2 (30th Aug) – 1 assist – vs West Ham u21s (home) W 2-0 (4th Oct) – vs Walsall (away) W2-0 (18th Oct)
No goals scored.
Positions played in: Defensive Midfield, Attacking Midfield, Central Midfield.
Did You Know?
Although Matt left the City of Manchester stadium where titles are common these days, Matt won a league winners medal during his time out on loan?
His success came at then second tier Dutch outfit FC Twente for whom he turned out 37 times for scoring twice, and setting up two others.
Good luck Matty!
When Wales take on the USA at Qatar 2022 it will be 64 years since they faced Brazil at Sweden ’58.
Matt Smith has a chance to write himself into Welsh history if he features in the game, and secure himself a piece of Dons history as well. Our first contracted senior player to feature at a world cup finals tournament.
From myself, and on behalf of us all at the MKDSA I send Matthew our best wishes on his Welsh adventure, Good Luck Matty!