The X-Men: Tommy Smith
"I was going into my last year [at Derby] and Watford were interested. It was one of those decisions where I went to him [manager Billy Davies] and said: "If you don`t want me to stay then I would love to go back to Watford." I felt going back to Watford I had a bit of a point to prove as well. Once that [opportunity] came around, I had my head turned and I felt that if they couldn`t commit to me, Watford was where I wanted to go," enthuses Smith.
Now 33, the Cardiff City attacker made 237 league starts for the Hornets over two spells and upon his return to the Vic` at the end of August 2006, Smith found a wholly different football club to the one which he had left as a young man.
"It was very different," admits Smith." A lot of the old faces were still there, but certainly the people in charge had changed. Aidy Boothroyd was the manager and he was a very strong man to have in charge and he wanted to control of lot of what went on at the club."
Under the stewardship of the enigmatic Boothroyd, Smith flourished. Deployed in a right-wing role, the academy graduate won two 'Player of the Season` gongs and enjoyed his best season in front of goal between 2008 and 2009, scoring 17 goals.
Boothroyd was different and certainly his own man, but Smith enjoyed working under the current Northampton Town boss.
"The attention to detail in his work was unbelievable; I`d never worked for a manager like that before. What went into the preparation for games and post-match reviews and looking at the game, that was a real eye-opener for me and something I really enjoyed doing actually. He was a great manager and I loved my time under him whilst I was there," explains Smith.
"He certainly made me look at the game in a different way. I was getting to the age as well where you mature a bit and take a bit more responsibility on the pitch and he was very instrumental for me in that way; pushing me and making me become more vocal. I think I really grew on and off the pitch under him."
Remember! This is a preview of the X-Men interview which will appear in Saturday`s Official Matchday Programme for the game with Derby County. Make sure to purchase a copy from in and around the ground to read the full interview in which Smith discusses his spells away from Hertfordshire.