Korey Smith interview: From Norwich with love for Bristol City dynamo
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City's academy has come in for intense scrutiny in recent times. But Paddy Davitt caught up with one of the real success stories from back in the day, ahead of Saturday's latest reunion at Ashton Gate.
Korey Smith's impressive League Cup display at Manchester City in midweek brought home a special Norwich City memory.
The former Canaries' academy starlet last graced one of the finest stages in the land in the green and yellow, when he captained the club's under-18s in an FA Youth Cup quarter-final tie.
Both games ended in gallant defeats, but Smith has travelled many a mile since breaking out of City's junior ranks.
Paul Lambert made him the midfield fulcrum of the side who powered to the League One title, before a second consecutive promotion just a few months after his 20th birthday.
Norwich's meteoric rise outstripped the 26-year-old's own accelerated progress, and lower league spells at Barnsley, Yeovil and Oldham were a tough breeding ground.
Now he is the cornerstone of Bristol's push for league and cup glory, but Smith is forever indebted for his formative years, as he prepares to face his old club today at Ashton Gate.
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'Some of the best times of my life I spent at Norwich. I have nothing but great memories,' he said.
'I have friends from that time who are my best friends now.
'My partner is from Norwich, her family still live there and I rent out a house there.
' was a big part of my development, playing a part in two promotions and learning a lot. I can just about remember the Murphys, who were in the academy, and lads like Angus Gunn, Remi Matthews, Carlton Morris.
'They would sometimes come up and train with the first team. It is nice to have a connection and earlier in the season was the first time I went back. It was great to see the stewards and the tea lady and they remembered me.
'I spent a lot of time with those people.'
MORE: Have your say on our Pinkun forumSmith believes the Robins' 2-1 semi-final, first leg loss against Pep Guardiola's superstars on Tuesday showed how good Lee Johnson's squad is.
'Things are going well,' he said. 'We are having a great season, both personally and the club as well. Last year was a bit frustrating for me because I had a bad injury that needed surgery but I got a good pre-season behind me.
'To beat four Premier League teams already in that competition gave us the confidence to go there and put on a good display but we were a bit gutted to concede the last minute goal.
'I think we were proud of the performance and we showed everyone what the Championship is about.
'They had more chances and possession but we did have opportunities.
'I think there was a stat that said apart from United we had the most shots at the Etihad this season.
'A lot of the boys had not been there before but I was telling them about playing there for Norwich in the quarter-finals of the Youth Cup.
' was a similar thing. They had spent a lot of money, even at that level. We played really well. It was 1-0 and we got a late penalty and Nick Davey unfortunately missed. We were very close again.
'That was a great memory.'
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