Jonathan Smith is a midfielder for Luton Town. He currently is the longest-serving senior player with over 150 appearances for the club. A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to interview him at Luton’s training ground, Ely Way.
How did you get into football?
My Dad used to take me to watch Preston North End (my local team), and also I did cubs and they had a football team, and so that was probably my first involvement in football.
After your loan spell at Kenilworth Road, you made it clear you wanted to sign permanently for the club. What attracted you the most?
I think it was the potential of the club. All the fans and the size of the club, and even walking into the training ground meant I could see it was only going one way, and I wanted to be a part of that. I felt like there was definitely a few promotions that could be made if I stuck with it.
What is your favourite memory in a Luton shirt?
I’ve got a few to be honest, but my favourite one would probably have to be the winning the league because you can’t beat promotion and it only comes around once in a while. Another one though is beating Norwich away in the FA Cup because you don’t see a Non-League team beating a Premier League team very often, so for us to do that was a big achievement.
Do you have any match day routines or superstitions?
Yeah, I have a few routines. Before a game, on a Friday I’ll have some sort of big pasta dish to get my energy up. If it’s a Tuesday night game I’ll try and wake up early and have a sleep in the afternoon, so I feel like I have more energy for the game. If it’s a Saturday game I like to get up early as well and then have a little mid-morning sleep before going to the game. I don’t really have many superstitions but I know Danny Hylton has loads!
After your leg break against Barnet on Boxing Day 2013, how hard was it to sit out for four months?
Yeah, it was quite tough. More so I think because of our position in the league, we were right up there. It was the first real injury I’d had though, the first period of time where I couldn’t play, so I tried to use my time wisely and try and improve my game. It was tough but I think it’s made me stronger in the long run.
Do you have any tips for Cameron on his recovery?
Cameron’s working really hard as we speak and has some good people around him, so I think he’s got it all sorted. I have told him any time he needs some help he can just give me a shout. As far as Cameron is concerned I don’t think he could be working any harder.
Who’s the best player you’ve played against?
I’ve played against quite a few big name players, but the one that stands out is a player called Tugay Kerimoglu, a Turkish midfielder who played for Blackburn. I played against him when I was younger and I don’t think he gave the ball away the whole game. I would try and get close to him and he would just see me coming, it was like he had eyes in the back of his head!
What’s your favourite goal you’ve scored for Luton
I don’t think I’ve scored enough, I would’ve liked to score more. I scored a volley against Wycombe on Boxing Day which was nice, because there’s always a big crowd and it was quite a local game, so I’d probably say that one.
You are one of the most consistent performers at the club and have just passed 150 appearances. What motivates you to play with the same enthusiasm every week?
The winning mentality, what I’ve always had. I love to win and whatever I do, whether it’s playing tennis against my girlfriend or playing a football match, I want to come out on top. As well as that I always have my own motivations to do well and the main motivation at the moment is to get to Wembley, win the cup and get promotion.
Who’s the worst player to share a room with on away trips?
I’ve had some good room-mates to be fair, but I once shared a room with Matt Robinson (ex Luton midfielder) and he snored really badly. I ended up going down to reception with my bank card and asking for another room but because there was a wedding on in the hotel, there was no rooms spare and I had to try and get back to sleep next to him!
What’s Nathan Jones like as a manager?
He’s really good and he’s a top coach. There are no grey areas in the way he wants us to play, he’s very thorough in what we do, he’s really enthusiastic and a great motivator. He reminds me slightly of Paolo di Canio, who I played under at Swindon. He’s not as extreme as him, but they both have a real drive to win and Luton are very lucky to have him.
How do you relax away from football?
I’ve got a little girl who’s 18 months, so she takes up a lot of my time up at the moment! I’ve been doing a lot of yoga to keep me flexible. I also have a dog that I walk and I like to spend time with friends when I can, but football does take up most of my time!
You were voted Players’ Player of the Season for the 2014/15 campaign. How good does it feel to be recognised by your peers?
Yeah that was great, anyone will tell you the award you want to win is that one. I would’ve swapped it for promotion though, there’s no doubt about that. It’s nice to get the personal awards but promotion is the one everyone wants!
What would you like to achieve in the future at the club?
For here and now, my target is to get promotion and to win the cup. In the future, I’d like to still be here when the new stadium comes because that’ll be exciting, but for now it’s just promotion and the cup!
A big thanks to Jonathan Smith for participating in the interview and Stuart Hammonds for arranging it!