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A great profile of Chris Smalling – still at Fulham, but of course soon to be of Manchester United – by the always readable Amy Lawrence. Here are a few excerpts.

On studying and university before Fulham came calling:

I would have gone to Loughborough to study business management and was looking forward to that very much.

The experiences of his Maidstone team-mates has made Smalling appreciate the need to grab his chance:

My team-mates had different jobs. A few worked in the city, some did building and carpentry, a lot of them had played in the league at a higher level but dropped down for whatever reason, whether they were coming to the end of their career or had an injury and struggled to get back. That makes you value the opportunity you have.

Why Fulham just felt right:

After playing a reserve game Roy Hodgson took me into his office and complimented me on my game. We had a general chat, he was telling me about when he played for Maidstone back in the day, so it all felt very nice to be at the club. They gave me a chance, they saw some raw ability and it has been a joy working here every day.

The chance of getting to Wembley, and playing against the likes of Juventus, shows how far we have come as a group.

It’s all tinged with a bad of sadness that we won’t see Smalling develop ourselves but let’s hope he goes out in style.