Former Claret Renny Smith Now Playing In Italy
Renny Smith was part of both the Chelsea and Arsenal academies before moving on to Burnley, but it is in Italy where the Englishman has found a home as a footballer.
Smith was viewed as an exciting prospect while at Chelsea and rejected approaches from Manchester City and Liverpool to join Arsenal at sixteen in 2013, but even at a club that looks to give opportunities to young players, the midfielder tells a familiar story of failing to break into first team.
Smith was viewed as an exciting prospect while at Chelsea and rejected approaches from Manchester City and Liverpool to join Arsenal at sixteen in 2013, but even at a club that looks to give opportunities to young players, the midfielder tells a familiar story of failing to break through.
He went on to join Burnley on a three-year contract in 2015, but like several others we have spoken to in our Brits Abroad series, Smith found it difficult to adapt to life in the Football League having been at two elite clubs.
Smith was just eighteen when he signed for Burnley, but he struggled to adapt to what Sean Dyche wanted from his midfielders. He never played for the Clarets’ first team during what proved to be their promotion season. He first joined Serie B side Vicenza, before joining Mantova on loan and then moving to Serie C side Sudtirol in the summer. He hopes to progress up the pyramid and one day return to his native England.
Speaking about his struggle to get first team action Renny Smith said, “With the Chelsea academy, for me, you get the feeling they buy in their talent, it’s not a case of making and creating talents and that’s how I felt when I was there. If they want to get a good player they would spend money on a youth team player, they would relocate the parents, give them a house, give them a car for them to come and be with the Chelsea academy. It was quite incredible really.
It’s tough enough getting through at Chelsea with all the money they have in the first team; if they need a player they’ll go spend £40million, no problem. Arsenal wasn’t as bad, they don’t spend as much money on young players as Chelsea did and it’s more of a case of developing the talent they’ve got. Two players I admired a lot whilst training in the first team was Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla.
It was a lot of long balls, second balls, and as a midfielder you’re watching the ball going over your head a lot which was quite frustrating. I didn’t settle into that environment and that’s why I left early because we were training long balls and to hit balls into certain areas to win headers.
I learned a lot, but at the same time it wasn’t a game I enjoyed I managed to make the most of my time there and to learn about how Sean Dyche wants to play. I took things from it but that as a style of football was not for me. It’s working for him at the moment and he’s doing really well in the Premier League, all the players are buying into it and the club is doing well, but they’re just not playing the football I enjoy. For me football is about winning but about enjoying it and entertaining at the same time.”
I wanted a change, I wanted to start my career and play first-team football, I knew some players in Sweden and they said it was a good opportunity. They have big crowds, it’s technically very good and it was a great, positive experience for me, my first experience of first-team football. A lot of players now are trying, as they look at the Football League and see that style is not suited to the young Premier League players. They go there and they’re alienated by the style of football the manager wants them to play.
If you’re prepared to make the sacrifices, put in the dedication and make football your lifestyle, not just moving to a club as you live locally, then you’ll do well. Hopefully we’ll see some English players, including me, that will be doing well abroad. Italy is known for its tactical knowledge and I thought I could learn a lot, I think being quite technically based compared to the lower leagues in England, it might suit my style of play.
It was a difficult choice for me to move to Italy but I’m making the most of it and working really hard. I’ve learnt the language an I’am doing interviews in Italian. I’m managing to speak to people really well and make conversation, which was really tough at the start. I want to come back to England that’s the ultimate goal, I want to be playing in the Premier League, if not the Championship. To do that I will need to be in Serie B or A, as a lot of international scouts watch those leagues, not such much Serie C.”