Little more than 18 months after arriving at Fulham from non-league Maidstone, defender Chris Smalling agreed to terms that would make him a Manchester United player from 1 July 2010.
A quick, clever central defender, Smalling played cameo roles for Roy Hodgson’s Fulham in both domestic and European competitions during 2009/10. Those fleeting performances were enough to earn him call-ups at England Under-21 level, and catch the eye of United scouts, who identified him as a talent too good to miss out on.
The Reds agreed terms with Fulham for Smalling’s signature in January 2010, although the Greenwich-born defender remained at Craven Cottage for the remainder
of the season.
Smalling's first campaign at Old Trafford went better than anyone could have expected. Given several chances to impress early in the season, mainly in the Champions League and League Cup, he looked completely at home in the centre of defence.
And his confidence and composure only grew as the season wore on, when he earned an extended run in the side because of an injury to Rio Ferdinand.
By the end of the campaign he'd made enough appearances to pick up a league winners' medal. Throw in a first senior goal against Scunthorpe and it was a maiden season to remember for the talented youngster.