When Inside United caught up with Chris Smalling, the 20-year-old spoke with clarity and insight, revealing he had a university place lined up if he didn’t make it in football. Thankfully he did, and is relishing playing and developing at United...
You’re new to United fans; how would you describe yourself – person and player?
I’m a quiet lad off the pitch, but on it I’m trying to speak up more. The other players are helping me with that and I feel I’m getting more confident as I settle in. I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far.
What’s impressed you most about the club?
The will to win. Even the senior players who have been here for years and won countless trophies always want to win, even in training. They never lower their standards and they’re a great example for us young lads in the way they’re so driven. Striving for success is what this club is all about.
You seem to have settled in very easily…
I’ve been made to feel very welcome by everybody which has really helped. Going on tour in the summer was key in terms of the settling in process as I got to know a lot of the lads well. It’s a real family club with a great atmosphere. All the players get on well – there are obviously a lot of different nationalities here, but there’s great camaraderie amongst everyone.
Two years ago, if somebody had said to you, “You’ll be playing for Manchester United in a couple of years,” what would your response have been?
[Smiles] Well, I always hoped I’d get a chance to prove myself at the top level because I believed I could do it, but making your way up the football ladder is very tough. Thankfully I’ve been lucky enough to do that and I’m really pleased to have been given such a great opportunity.
You were spotted by Fulham when you were at Maidstone – how did that come about?
It was soon after