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Former Pate's pupil inspires FA Cup upset against Liverpool

By JPEchoRobins  |  Posted: January 27, 2013

Matt Smith with Oldham boss Paul Dickov

Matt Smith with Oldham boss Paul Dickov

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Former Pate's Grammar School pupil Matt Smith scored twice to help Oldham Athletic stun Liverpool in this afternoon's FA Cup fourth round tie.

The 6ft 6in striker was on Cheltenham Town's books as a youngster, but he moved north to attend Manchester University, playing part-time football along with his studies.

Smith powered in a header in the second minute to put League One Oldham ahead against all the odds at Boundary Park.

Luis Suarez levelled for Liverpool, but Smith struck again from close range in first half stoppage time to put the Latics on course for a famous upset.

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Oldham went 3-1 up in the second half before Liverpool pulled one back, but Paul Dickov's men held on to book their place in the fifth round draw.

Smith was forced off with a shoulder injury in the final ten minutes, but he was named man of the match for his heroics.

He was released by Cheltenham in 2007, but he battled back to earn a two-year deal with Oldham in the summer of 2011.

Smith has strong family links with the game – his father and grandfather both played professionally.

Speaking in 2011, Smith told the Gloucestershire Echo: "I was only at Cheltenham Town for a year. I was never actually there on a full-time basis as I was studying for my A-levels at the time.

"I used to go in two or three mornings per week and train with the youth team under Bob Bloomer and John Brough, but at the end of the year I was released.

"Only the goalkeeper Will Puddy got taken on that year and I hadn't really been playing all that much, so it was inevitable I got released."

Smith's career as a footballer was put on hold as a four-year business degree at Manchester University took precedence.

After a year of playing for the university's first team, Smith started turning out for North West Counties' League side New Mills, a stint that he now says was instrumental in his recent rise.

"It was a very competitive league and crucially it was men's football and that certainly helped toughen me up," Smith said.

"It's a different world to reserve team and youth team football.

"That's almost false football as it has no passion and the games usually don't mean anything.

"Playing competitively you learn the importance of winning and, more importantly, learn a great deal.

"Without doubt that's helped me get where I am.

Smith added: "My story shows that there is a route back into the game.

"All too often now people think that if you've not made it by the age of 12 then you never will.

"But if you put the hard work in there's no reason why you can't go on and make it back, so I would urge all those released players to never give up hope – I didn't."

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