Tributes paid following passing of Alan Smith, aged 74

Tributes have flooded in from players and fans following news of the death of Wednesday’s former head physiotherapist, Alan Smith, aged 74.

Wednesdayite Alan joined Howard Wilkinson’s backroom staff in 1983 and became a favourite  with supporters during his 11 years at the club, particularly for his sprints onto the pitch to tend to injured players, often bringing ambulance siren sounds from the crowd to signal his arrival on the field.

He also effectively saved the life of Wednesday’s Paul Warhurst when he collapsed in the Kop end penalty area after suffering a head injury in the home UEFA Cup game against Spora Luxembourg in 1992, unblocking the player’s airway when his life was clearly in danger.

Alan’s tremendous work for Wednesday led to him being called up to the England backroom staff under Sir Bobby Robson in 1986 and he later joined the set-up on a permanent basis, including the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and the Euros in 1996 and 2000.

He worked with the Football Association for 24 years and was gifted a silver international cap in 2003 for his service to the national team, also receiving a lifetime achievement award 12 years later from the Football Medical Association for his service to football.

After leaving Wednesday, Alan’s legacy continued through his son, Paul, who spent eight years as the Owls’ head physiotherapist, while the pair also worked together with their own medical practice.

Former Wednesday keeper, Martin Hodge, tweeted:  ‘Alan Smith, one of the best physios I ever had the pleasure of working with. A gentleman, a fitness freak and players knew they were in good hands with him. Sad day, RIP Alan’.

Ex-Owls striker, Gordon Watson, wrote on Twitter: ‘Sad with a capital S. The most professional man I ever met in the game’ while former midfielder Matty Hamshaw, now first team coach at Derby, tweeted: ‘Sad news, fantastic man, love to his family at this sad time’.

Scores of fans have also taken to Twitter to pay their personal tributes to Alan, with some calling for a minute’s applause for him in the 74th minute of the play-off final at Wembley tomorrow.

The London Owls also send our sympathies to Alan’s family and friends at this very sad time.

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