Dean Smith (footballer)

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Dean Smith
Smith, Dean.jpg
Personal information
Full name Dean Smith
Date of birth (1971-03-19) 19 March 1971 (age 43)
Place of birth West Bromwich, England
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Playing position Centre back
Club information
Current club Walsall (manager)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1994 Walsall 142 (2)
1994–1997 Hereford United 117 (19)
1997–2003 Leyton Orient 239 (32)
2003–2004 Sheffield Wednesday 55 (1)
2004–2005 Port Vale 13 (0)
Total 566 (54)
Teams managed
2011– Walsall
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Dean Smith (born 19 March 1971) is an English footballer turned football manager, who is now in charge of League One club Walsall.

Starting his playing career with Walsall in 1989, over the course of five years he played 166 league and cup games. Signing with Hereford United in 1994, three years and 146 appearances later he moved on to Leyton Orient. In six years with Orient he made 309 appearances in all competitions, before earning a move to Sheffield Wednesday in 2003. After a season with Wednesday he moved on to Port Vale, retiring in January 2005. He scored 54 goals in 566 league games in a 16-year career in the Football League.

Returning to Leyton Orient, he worked as assistant manager until January 2009. In July 2009, he was appointed as Head of Youth at Walsall, before taking the management reins in January 2011. He took Walsall from relegation certainties to safety in his first four months in charge.

Playing career[edit]


Smith started his playing career at Walsall, as the club suffered relegation from the Third Division in 1989–90 under John Barnwell's stewardship. They then struggled to adapt to life in the Fourth Division under new manager Kenny Hibbitt, finishing 16th in 1990–91 and 15th in 1991–92. The "Saddlers" qualified for the play-offs with a fifth place finish in 1992–93, but were badly beaten by Crewe Alexandra at the semi-final stage. Walsall finished tenth in 1993–94, and Smith left the club, having played a total of 166 games for the "Saddlers", scoring two goals.

Hereford United[edit]

In summer 1994, Smith was sold to Hereford United for £80,000, a club record fee for the "Bulls". They finished 16th in the Third Division in 1994–95 under John Layton. Smith was Graham Turner's captain at Edgar Street during the club's rise to the Third Division playoffs in 1995–96, where they were beaten by 4–2 Darlington at the semi-final stage, despite Smith opening the scoring just two minutes into the first leg.

Hereford were relegated from the Football League after finishing in last place in 1996–97; they had been level on points with Brighton & Hove and with a superior goal difference, however goals scored was the decider and Brighton scored three more than Hereford over the course of the campaign. Smith scored 26 goals in 146 appearances in all competitions during his time at Edgar Street.

Leyton Orient[edit]

Smith signed with Tommy Taylor's Leyton Orient in August 1997, with a tribunal setting the fee at £42,500. He scored ten goals in 51 games in 1997–98; Orient would have finished one point outside the Third Division play-offs had they not been deducted three points. He captained Orient to the play-offs in 1998–99, and converted a penalty in the shoot-out victory over Rotherham United at the semi-final stage. However his team were beaten 1–0 by Scunthorpe United in the Wembley final.[1] Over the course of the campaign he scored ten goals in 49 appearances.

Orient then struggled in 1999–2000, finishing in the bottom half of the table. Smith was again a key player, scoring six goals in 50 appearances. Following a fifth place finish in 2000–01, he again captained the "O's" to the play-off final in 2001, this time at the Millennium Stadium. Despite twice taking the lead against Blackpool, they lost the match 4–2.[2] Over the course of the season he scored five goals in 54 games.

He scored four goals in 51 games in 2001–02, but Paul Brush's team struggled and finished in mid-table, closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs, though they were 16 points above the drop. Smith continued to feature heavily in the 2002–03 campaign, though he left the club in mid-season. He had played 309 games for the club in all competitions, scoring 43 goals.

Sheffield Wednesday & Port Vale[edit]

He joined First Division side Sheffield Wednesday in February 2003, then managed by Chris Turner. The "Owls" were relegated at the end of the season, having finished in 22nd place, four points below Stoke City. He was appointed club captain in the summer,[3] however Wednesday struggled in the Second Division and finished just three points above relegated Grimsby Town. Smith played 48 games in 2003–04, scoring one goal. The club then had a clear out of personnel, and Smith was one of 13 players to depart Hillsborough.[4] He had scored one goal in 62 appearances for Wednesday.

In July 2004, he signed for Martin Foyle's Port Vale.[5] He played 13 League One games and two cup games for the "Valiants" in 2004–05, before he ended his playing days in January 2005 when he left Vale Park to become youth team coach at his old club Leyton Orient.

Management career[edit]

Leyton Orient[edit]

After working as a youth coach at Leyton Orient from January 2005, Smith was promoted to the role of assistant manager toward the end of the 2004–05 season.[6] He attained his UEFA Pro Licence in 2008, alongside classmates such as Roy Keane, Brendan Rodgers, and Ian McParland.[7] After a poor run of form, Smith left Orient in January 2009, along with long serving manager Martin Ling.[8]


In July 2009, Smith returned to his first club, Walsall, in the role of Head of Youth.[9]

Smith was appointed caretaker manager of Walsall on 4 January 2011, following the dismissal of Chris Hutchings. Seventeen days later he was announced as permanent manager of the club until the end of the season.[10] Taking over managerial duties with his side nine points adrift at the foot of League One, Smith managed to steer Walsall out of the drop zone before the season's end.[11] On 29 January, the "Saddlers" recorded their best league result since 1986 by beating Bristol Rovers 6–1, in what was Smith's first win in charge; the three points also took Walsall off the foot of the table, though they were still seven points short of safety.[12] His team made up the difference over February, and a 1–0 win over promotion chasing Southampton on 1 March saw Walsall climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since October.[13] They ended the season one point clear of Dagenham & Redbridge in the drop zone.

He let fourteen players go in summer 2011, including: Darren Byfield, Jonny Brain, Clayton McDonald, Paul Marshall, Matt Richards, Steve Jones, Aaron Lescott, David Bevan, Julian Gray, and Tom Williams. He then signed goalkeeper Dávid Gróf; defenders Mat Sadler and Lee Beevers;[14] midfielders Kevan Hurst,[15] Claude Gnakpa,[16] Adam Chambers, and Anton Peterlin;[17] and striker Ryan Jarvis.[18] Also during the campaign he boosted his squad with loan signings Dave Martin,[19] Mark Wilson, Andy Halliday, and Florent Cuvelier.[20] His side lost just one of their first five league games, but then picked up just three points from their next seven games. They beat Preston North End on 15 October, but then picked up just four points from their next eight games. From 26 November, they were beaten just once in nine matches, but became the division's draw specialists as seven of these nine games finished level. They finished the campaign in 19th place, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

In summer 2012, he offered professional contracts to youth team players Malvind Benning, Ben George, Aaron Williams and Kieron Morris.[21] He continued to add promising young players by bringing in 21-year old winger Ashley Hemmings, 19-year old former loanee Florent Cuvelier, 19-year old winger James Baxendale, 20-year old defender Paul Downing, 19-year old striker Connor Taylor, 23-year old striker Febian Brandy, in addition to 32-year old right-back Dean Holden.[22][23][24][25][26] He also brought in full-back James Chambers, twin brother of Adam Chambers.[27] He also brought in a number of players on loan, including: Karl Darlow (21), Sam Mantom (20), Aaron McCarey (20), and Craig Westcarr (27).[28][29][30][31] Mantom was made into a permanent signing in January.[32] Smith signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract in October, keeping him at the club until summer 2015.[33] This came after the club announced a £10,000 profit on the previous campaign as Smith's 'Total Football' approach yielded a mid-table position for the young Walsall team, in addition to praise from pundits and fans.[34][35][36] A poor run of results saw the team slip to just above the relegation zone in mid-December.[37] Walsall recovered to win four of their five games in January, as Smith was named as Manager of the Month.[38] They ended the season in ninth place, six points outside the play-offs.

During a fine start to the 2013–14 season, Smith, affectionately nick-named "Ginger Mourinho" by the Walsall fans, took the club to an unlikely promotion push.[39] He masterminded a win at Molineux against local "Black Country" rivals, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and also ended winning streaks by table-toppers Leyton Orient and Brentford.[40][41][42]

Managerial statistics[edit]

Competitive matches only – Correct as of 18 April 2014
Team From To Record
Walsall 4 January 2011 Present 177 53 69 55 221 223 −2 29.9
Total 177 53 69 55 221 223 −2 29.9




  1. ^ "Sport: Football Garcia strike takes Iron up". BBC Sport. 29 May 1999. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Blackpool pip Orient to promotion". BBC Sport. 26 May 2001. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Smith to captain Owls". BBC Sport. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "Owls boss wields the axe". BBC Sport. 13 May 2004. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "Vale switch for Smith". BBC Sport. 5 July 2004. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "Management duo sign O's contracts". BBC Sport. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "The Class of 2008". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "Leyton Orient manager Ling leaves". BBC Sport. 18 January 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Hutchings Delighted with Latest Appointment". 30 July 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Dean Smith gets Walsall job until end of season". BBC Sport. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "Southampton 3 – 1 Walsall". BBC Sport. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Walsall 6 – 1 Bristol Rovers". BBC Sport. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Walsall 1 – 0 Southampton". BBC Sport. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Walsall sign ex-Colchester United defender Lee Beevers". BBC Sport. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Walsall bring in winger Kevan Hurst". BBC Sport. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Walsall add former Luton winger Claude Gnakpa to squad". BBC Sport. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "Walsall sign Anton Peterlin on a one-year contract". BBC Sport. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Walsall agree deal for striker Ryan Jarvis". BBC Sport. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "Martin Makes Saddlers Switch". Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "Walsall sign Florent Cuvelier from Stoke City on loan". BBC Sport. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  21. ^ "Jamie Tank signs for Wolves as Walsall sign four on pro contracts". BBC Sport. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Walsall sign winger Ashley Hemmings after Wolves departure". BBC Sport. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Florent Cuvelier and Dean Holden join Walsall". BBC Sport. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Striker Febian Brandy joins League One side Walsall". BBC Sport. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Paul Downing & Connor Taylor sign one-year deals for Walsall". BBC Sport. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "James Baxendale joins Walsall after Doncaster Rovers release". 2 August 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "James Chambers joins twin brother Adam at Walsall". BBC Sport. 18 August 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  28. ^ "Walsall sign Karl Darlow on loan from Nottingham Forest". BBC Sport. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  29. ^ "West Brom loan Sam Mantom back to neighbours Walsall". BBC Sport. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "Wolves loan Aaron McCarey to Walsall for a month". BBC Sport. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  31. ^ "Walsall: Chesterfield's Craig Westcarr signs on loan". BBC Sport. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  32. ^ "Sam Mantom: Walsall sign West Bromwich Albion midfielder". BBC Sport. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  33. ^ "Walsall boss Dean Smith signs contract extension". BBC Sport. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  34. ^ "Walsall on the up at Bescot as they announce £10,000 profit". BBC Sport. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  35. ^ Scott, Ged (16 October 2012). "Walsall's tasty football reminds Butler of being on the Adkins diet". BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  36. ^ Fletcher, Paul (19 October 2012). "Walsall's youthful football winning fans and awards". BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  37. ^ "Walsall: Dean Smith focused on long-term goals". BBC Sport. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  38. ^ "Dean Smith: Walsall boss says manager award is for everyone". BBC Sport. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  39. ^ Scott, Ged (24 October 2013). "Are Dean Smith's soaring Saddlers good enough to go up?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  40. ^ Scott, Ged (17 September 2013). "Wolves 0 - 1 Walsall". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  41. ^ "Leyton Orient 1 - 1 Walsall". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  42. ^ "Walsall 1 - 1 Brentford". BBC Sport. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 

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