Former Lennox lad on the cusp of big-time
YOUNG Far North Coast football players take note - Brad Smith is proof that dreams can come true.
Left back Smith, who played for Lennox Head Sharks juniors, made his debut for EPL giants Liverpool against Chelsea last Sunday.
The 19-year-old is now being touted as a possible bolter for the Brazil World Cup squad later this year, with Australian boss Ange Postecoglou believed to be keen on scouting Smith when he visits Europe in a few weeks.
Troy Taylor, who coached Smith for a year with the Sharks, said he hoped his charge's success could open the floodgates for more of the region's talents.
"I think we have that bank of talent here," he said.
"I think players who have that commitment and family backing have shown they are on a par with the best in this country.
"It is great to see Brad going so well. I hope he has a bright future."
Penrith-born Smith played for the Sharks for a year in 2006 as a 12-year-old after moving to the North Coast with family.
Taylor said the potential of Smith, who played up two grades and scored four goals in 5-2 grand final win over Lismore Thistles, was obvious.
"You could ask him to apply himself and he would get it straight away," Taylor said. "He was years ahead of his peers.
"As a left back too, I'm chuffed with his performance."
He later moved with his mum and step-dad to England, joining a school with links to the Reds.
Smith moved through the ranks of the Merseyside club's junior ranks before being awarded a shirt number in the first-team squad this year.
Pacy Smith played for half an hour in the top-of-the-table clash against Chelsea, which saw the London side claim a vital 2-1 win.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers praised Smith, who is eligible for both Australia and England, for his display.
Rogers predicted Smith, who has already appeared for England's Under-17s, has a "bright future" in the game.
Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who watched Smith at close quarters from the Chelsea bench, was an interested observer. "He looked very, very sharp and he did not look out of place," Schwarzer told Fox Sports.
He certainly has a lot of potential."
Smith could make his first start for the club over the coming days, with Liverpool expected to rest first-teamers for the visit of lower league Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup this Monday morning (AEDT).
FIVE OTHER PAST AND PRESENT FNC football PRODUCTS
Craig Foster: The former Socceroo, who won 29 caps for Australia, is one of the sport's most recognisable faces as presenter and pundit for SBS.
Terry Greedy: Australian goalkeeper who played for Lismore clubs.
Lisa Casagrande: Former Lismore player represented the Matildas more than 60 times.
Jaiden Walker/Jordon Lampard: Both players making an impact for Brisbane Roar in this season's A-League youth competition, facing some of the country's best young players.