Hard work paying off for Smith

It's just as well Matt Smith doesn't take rejection personally, if he did he likely wouldn;t be in the current Qantas Socceroos squad.

It's just as well Matt Smith doesn't take rejection personally.

If he did, chances are his football journey would have started and ended on England's south coast 13 years ago.

That's where the first of his pink slips was delivered, Portsmouth FC saying 'thanks but no thanks' and wiping him from their books at age 17.

Smith could quite easily have taken the easy way out and given up right there and then, blaming blinded Pompey officials for not seeing his obvious talent.

Fortunately, quitting is not part of his DNA. He completed his university studies in marketing and continued playing semi-professional football in the Southern League.

But Smith yearned for a greater challenge, not totally convinced his dream of making it as a professional footballer was over.

In 2007 he landed in Australia looking for a game.

The A-League was up and running but no-one had room for an overseas import.

This time the door wasn't slammed in Smith's face - he didn't even get through the front gate.

He focused on his job as a marketing manager at a finance company and kept his hand in playing State League for the Brisbane Strikers.

"I had a young family and mortgage and bills like most of us," Smith explained.

"I was working your typical nine to five job and driving from the Gold Coast to Brisbane three nights a week for training and then playing on weekends.

"It took me two years to get my Australian citizenship so I wasn't a visa player anymore.

"That little extra hurdle was making it a lot harder for me to make it.

"This was going to make it a little easier."

Or so he thought. The paperwork was now in order but the knockbacks continued.

"I had just come off a two week training program at Gold Coast United and I wasn't in favour there and I was wondering whether there would be any more opportunities coming my way," he said.

"My wife was the one who kept me going. She said 'if you're good enough you'll get the chance'."

Then came the phone call that changed everything.

North Queensland Fury coach Ian Ferguson needed a defender in a hurry and sent out an SOS for Smith.

The centre back played 11 games and was eventually picked up by Brisbane Roar when Fury folded.

Most know the storyline from there: captain of Roar, two A-League titles in two years and now a call-up to the Socceroos provisional squad ahead of next month's East Asian Cup qualifiers.

"It's been a crazy career. It's gone up and down but I always had an ambition to play at as high a level as I possibly could," Smith said.

"I was playing in the state league and working the office job until Ian Ferguson gave me an opportunity at Fury and same thing with Ange (Postecoglou) at Brisbane and I'm grateful for this opportunity too.

"I'm very pleased to be involved with the Socceroos. Australia is my home now, it has been for some time.

"I would like nothing better than to represent Australia."

The rejected one has finally been embraced.