Korey Smith has come a long way since that Norwich City debut to forget
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Korey Smith cut a near desperate figure.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he tried to explain away his full first team debut for Norwich City.
What should have been a game to remember became one to forget. Smith, as always, had worked his socks off but couldn't prevent City sliding to a 4-2 defeat at Charlton on the final day of the 2008-09 season. It was part of the season-ending picture which consigned the Canaries to relegation to League One – and the truth of that fall from grace was beginning to sink in.
Smith was just 18 at the time, a lad who had established himself as he came through the ranks but, apart from a subs' appearance in a home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday the previous month, had no first team experience.
After Charlton, you wondered whether he would want it again. Smith was one of the players who fronted up for interviews post-match. It was clear that, co-operative as he was, he would rather have been somewhere else. Like on the bus with some of the senior players who didn't utter a word about their role in the Great City Disaster.
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Some were never seen in a City shirt again – but a change of management early the following season helped Smith, whose training field exertions caught the watchful eye of Paul Lambert and Ian Culverhouse.
Smith was given his chance against Wycombe, scoring in a 5-2 win, and he didn't look back. He was the epitome of a Lambert player: hard-working, hungry for success, ready to give his all – and, of course not without a modicum of skill.
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But what was also synonymous with the Lambert era was turnover: Smith made 67 league appearances in two seasons, but when City hit the Premier League, Lambert left him behind. He was deemed Championship quality, nothing more. He went on loan to Barnsley, Yeovil and Oldham, where he eventually signed. Now he's a Bristol City man through and through: he's made more appearances for them than any another club. He is part of the furniture.
But he will also remain one of the men who were part of the revolution at Carrow Road, and he saw the lot: from the dark, dark day at The Valley to promotion to the top flight. Job done.