Chris Smalling is making a name for himself as a new United player but, as he tells us, football isn’t the only sport he excels at...
How does a day as a non-league player compare to that as a Premier League one?
It’s definitely different! I was still at school when I was at Maidstone, so I’d be up early every day. We trained on Tuesdays or Thursdays and sometimes we had a midweek match as well. I had a job at a hotel in the evenings, so it was busy. I have more free time now. We do an intense hour and a half on the training pitch and then gym work. But a lot of time is spent resting.
What are your interests away from the pitch?
I like golf, although I’m not as good as some of the boys here. I’m a big tennis fan, too. I went to Wimbledon a few years ago and had a great day. I like table-tennis, too - there’s a competition between the lads and I’m ready for any challenger.
Have you any hidden talents?
[Pauses to think] I was a national judo champion when I was younger. I started when I was about six or seven and quit just before I joined Fulham. I’ve got medals somewhere.