Alan Smith has told the Daily Mirror (13/10; page 67) that the favourite goal of his career came during Leeds’ famous win against Lazio during the incredible run to the semi-finals of the 2000/01 Champions League.
Smith’s relationship with the Leeds fans has fluctuated drastically over the years. He was one of the stars of David O’Leary’s side as we dreamed, and came within touching distance of, climbing the domestic and European mountains around the turn of the Millennium. But he was deemed to be a villain for where he went after we were relegated in 2004.
In the years since, it has become apparent that the move helped Leeds during their financial implosion. And there have been calls for the Whites to attempt to bring the forward back at various stages in the 14 years since.
Some may never forgive Smith for the club he joined. But most appear to now remember the forward’s time much more favourably. And it is because of moments like the one against Lazio in December 2000 that we do view Smith in a much better light.
…And then one night in Rome
It was the Englishman’s composed finish that capped off a stunning move from Leeds in the 80th minute in Stadio Olimpico to help them to a 1-0 win in the second group-stage that helped O’Leary’s men on their way to a second place finish behind Real Madrid.
It was another high point in a sensational run to the semi-finals. And in an interview with the Daily Mirror (13/10; page 67), Smith explained why he has named that goal against the Italian side as the favourite strike of his career.
“For the occasion, away to Lazio for Leeds United in the Champions League. As a kid we all grew up watching Italian football on Channel Four and to score at the Olympic Stadium in Rome was special in a 1-0 victory,” he said.