Sheffield Wednesday are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our former head physiotherapist Alan Smith at the age of 74.
Wednesdayite Smith joined Howard Wilkinson’s backroom staff at Hillsborough in 1983 and enjoyed an 11-year stint with the club having previously worked at Darlington, Rotherham and Blackpool.
Known for his infectious enthusiasm, he became a cult figure with Wednesday and was seen as one of the very best in his profession over a 50-year career.
His enthusiasm was best illustrated by his lightning-quick runs onto the field when tending to injured players, often sparking ambulance sounds from Wednesdayites as they marvelled at his pace!
During a game between the Owls and Spora Luxembourg in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup, Smith performed heroics when responding to a fallen Paul Warhurst following a head collision, unblocking the forward’s airway and saving his life.
A popular dressing room presence, Smith would often lead the Wednesday players during fitness drills, a man ahead of his time when sports science was much less prevalent than it is in the modern game.
He reached the pinnacle of football when he was called up to join England’s backroom staff under Sir Bobby Robson in 1986.
Smith would join the Three Lions set-up on a permanent basis, covering two World Cups in 1998 and 2002, as well as two European Championships in 1996 and 2000.
He was notably responsible for ensuring the availability of Alan Shearer and David Beckham when the England stars were injury doubts ahead of respective tournaments.
Smith worked with the Football Association for 24 years, from the younger England sides to the first team, and was gifted a silver international cap in 2003 for his service to our national team.
After leaving Wednesday, Alan’s legacy in S6 would continue through his son Paul who spent eight years as the Owls’ head physiotherapist, and the pair would work together with their own medical practice.
In 2015, Alan received a lifetime achievement award from the Football Medical Association for his service to football.
He led an incredible career and will be remembered fondly by all who met him professionally and personally.
The thoughts of everyone at Sheffield Wednesday are with Alan’s family and friends at this very difficult time.