Smalling grateful to Fulham
Chris Smalling has admitted he owes a lot to Fulham ahead of Sunday's clash against his former club.
Last Updated: 18/08/10 6:52pm
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has admitted he owes a lot to Fulham ahead of Sunday's clash against his former club.
Smalling made the move from Craven Cottage to Old Trafford over the summer after catching the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson with some assured performances.
A deal was agreed in January but Smalling was allowed to see out the remainder of last season with Fulham.
The benefits of life under Roy Hodgson are not lost on the 20-year-old and he recognises just what Fulham did for his career.
"I owe Fulham a lot," said Smalling. "They gave me my chance.
"When I finished school they gave me the chance to develop. I was in the reserves and then broke into the first-team squad last year.
"I made a lot of friends there, a lot of coaches who helped me are still there.
"(Development squad manager) Billy McKinley gave me a lot of support over the last couple of years and he deserves a lot of credit.
"It will be a bit weird going back but I hope it will be an enjoyable day."
Fulham signed Smalling from Maidstone in 2008 but he acknowledges that, in these days of sophisticated academy structures, to come through the non-league route is becoming increasingly rare.
But there are enough examples down the years for Smalling to know it can be done and he does not buy into the claim English players are becoming starved of chances.
"The opportunities are there," he said.
"It doesn't happen a lot these days where a non-league player comes through to professional football.
"There is a lot of money being thrown around to buy players. But there are examples."