“A dream come true”: Smith can’t wait for the World Cup experience
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The 23-year-old midfielder has been a regular in Rob Page’s squads this season, and was included alongside the likes of Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey in Monday night’s announcement to head to the first ever winter World Cup. And for the first time, MK Dons will have an active player heading out to the world’s biggest football competition.
Qualifying for Welsh nationality via his grandmother, Smith said he has harboured dreams of playing in a World Cup since he began playing football but never really expected them to come to fruition.
“It's amazing, it hasn't sunk in yet,” he said. “It's a dream of mine, and you think it's only a dream when you're a young boy. For it to come true, I'm over the moon.
“I had my family round, it was really nice to see their faces and to see how proud they are of me. It's such an amazing thing for me and my family. To be involved in a World Cup is something I thought would only be a dream, but I'm delighted for it to come true.
“The reaction has been fantastic from eveyone here. It means a lot to me, I've had some lovely messages on social media - it makes me feel proud ot be a part of something. To be the first MK Dons player to go to a World Cup is an honour. When I retire, hopefully in a long time, I'll look back to it with fond memories.
“I knew in the summer that I'd need a good start to the season, to be playing and to be involved in squads to get a chance. I knew it would be difficult, would take a lot of hard work so I got my head down and din't really think about it. But once I knew I was in the squad, it was a sigh of relief.”
A busy few days for Smith
Smith leaves for the Welsh camp on Sunday after Dons’ League One outing against Derby County this weekend, with the tournament starting in just a couple of weeks.
But with little time to prepare or to fully take it in, Smith said he is heading to the Middle East eager to enjoy every second of the tournament and what comes along with it.
He said: “I don't think you can really prepare yourself for it unless you've been in a tournament like it. There are people I can lean on, but I just want to take everything in myself, enjoy every moment. It's going to be a really good experience for me, I cannot wait.
“It'll be a busy few days before we go, and then a busy week when we fly to Qatar. We've only really got a week to prepare before we're into the games. Ideally you'd have a bit longer to prepare, but it just rolls on like a normal season. It'll be exciting for everyone because it's never happened at this time of year before.
“As soon as we get into the camp, it's work mode. We've got some really good players, and I feel like we can definitely do quite well in the tournament. We have the belief, and the camaraderie in the group so we're going there to get some results.”