England and Manchester United defender Chris Smalling answered students’ questions at Audenshaw School after their quarter final clash against South Hunsley School. Find out Chris’ advice for aspiring footballers and what he does to relax when he’s not playing football:
If you were to give one piece of advice to an aspiring footballer what would it be?
To keep practicing, however good you think you are. Whether it be shooting or heading or anything you feel a bit uncomfortable with like your weaker foot or something. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
If you weren’t a footballer what would you do as a career?
I would have gone to university to do a Business/Economics degree which I was a few months away from doing!
Who is the most difficult player you have ever played against?
Sergio Aguero is up there but Didier Drogba a few years ago when I was at Fulham and he was in his prime was a massive handful.
Who is the best player you played with?
It’s got to be Paul Scholes, he was a magician and the way he dictated play and passed the ball around was one of a kind.
At the club who would win a 100m race?
I reckon I’d be up there over 100m, Anthony Martial is very quick as well and Ashley Young. The longer the distance I’d back myself but over 10-20m I’ll give it to Martial, he’s rapid.
Who do you think is the best centre back in the world?
There’s a lot of different ones, Pique is definitely up there and Thiago Silva too. But Pique has won it all and done it over a long time so I’ll say him.
What was your first car?
My first car was a Renault Clio, I literally bought it the day before my test so there was a lot of pressure to pass and luckily I did!
What subjects did you enjoy at school? Apart from PE!
Maths and Business Studies, those were the two I enjoyed most and went on to do at A Level.
What was your best and most important goal?
Maybe last year in the Manchester Derby at home, celebrating at the Stretford End was a big goal and put us on a great run to the end of the season.
Who are you best friends in football?
Daniel Sturridge is a very good friend, definitely one of my best friends.
Are you good at any other sports other than football?
Yes at school I played rugby at centre or on the wing. I was a bowler in cricket and came in at number 8 or 9 and had a good swing with the bat but I was mainly a bowler. They were the main sports I liked to play.
What fixture do you look forward to the most?
The Manchester Derby and the game against Liverpool.
What has been your most memorable game for Manchester United and why?
I think my first Manchester Derby when I first joined. I’d played quite a few games in and out of the team but that was my first real big game. Sir Alex Ferguson said at the start of the week that I’d start that game so I had all week to build up to it and prepare myself. It was the game Wazza (Wayne Rooney) scored that overhead kick and I was playing against Carlos Tevez and had a good game so that’s the one that’s stuck with me.
When you are not playing football what do you like to do to relax?
Watch quite a lot of TV series’ and I like to play snooker as well. A few of us go down to the local snooker hall for a couple hours for some peace and quiet and it’s fun to play.
Who is the funniest person in the dressing room?
Jesse Lingard is quite funny and Ashley Young – those two are the main two. If there’s something going on at least one of them is behind it!
Do you have any rituals before a match?
Not particularly, I’m not too bad like that. Bastian Schweinsteiger always has a shower just before he gets changed, I really don’t know why! I tend to just get my boots and shin pads on and get on with it.
What music do you listen to before a match?
Vary between some quite upbeat things like Rudimental, anything that gets me going really. Quite a general selection.
What has been the greatest highlight of your career?
Winning the Premier League and playing a good amount of games in my first season. It’s nice to make a contribution and to get a main trophy like that is one to be cherished.