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Cup hero Smith now in spotlight
11:00am Thursday 31st January 2013 in Sport
STRIKER Matt Smith is still coming to terms with becoming an FA Cup hero against Liverpool just two years after playing Worcestershire parks football.
The 6ft 6ins 23-year-old wrote himself into Oldham Athletic folklore by scoring twice in the League One Latics’ stunning fourth-round 3-2 victory over the Premier League giants.
His two first-half strikes at Boundary Park, alongside a goal from Reece Wabara, set up a home fifth-round tie against Everton.
It is the latest chapter in former Evesham United junior Smith’s meteoric rise which began at Littleton while studying for a degree following his release from Cheltenham Town.
He went on to play for Redditch, Droylsden and Solihull Moors before joining Oldham 18 months ago.
The triumph was the first time Liverpool, featuring the likes of Luiz Suarez and Steven Gerrard, had lost away from home in the FA Cup to a team at least two divisions below since the 2-1 defeat at Worcester City in 1959.
Smith, who also played in Oldham’s 5-1 third-round defeat against Liverpool last season, said: “It’s still quite surreal, it was an unbelievable and unforgettable day.
“I look back to my university days, which weren’t that long ago, and it’s all been a very rapid rise in footballing terms but it’s been incredible.
“Last year I was fortunate to play 25 minutes at Anfield but this is above and beyond anything I have experienced.
“I can’t tell you what was going through my head at the time.
“My focus was to stay in sync with the game and not get carried away.
“To score two goals and get man-of-the-match was the icing on the cake. It was phenomenal.”
Smith was watched by his mother Francoise and father Ian Smith, a former striker for Birmingham City and Hearts who is now a GP in Evesham.
“It was a wonderful experience and we are a proud mother and father,” Dr Smith said.
“What he did was far bigger than I have ever done in football.”