Chris Smalling a patron of education charity Football Beyond Borders, which supports disadvantaged young people in the UK, says the impact of losing his father at the age of five and growing up with little money has been a motivating factor.
Smalling played at non-league Maidstone United before signing for Fulham, as a teenager. Smalling had made only two Premier League starts for Fulham when Manchester United signed him in 2010.
Chris Smalling who was raised by his mother following his dad’s passing, said money was tight and, as a teenager, he missed training because he could not afford the bus fare. “I was born in London but, after my dad passed away, we moved to Kent for a fresh start,” said Smalling.
Despite been very young when the tragedy occurred “I look at a picture of my dad before every game, just to remind me about having no fear or regrets and to go out and enjoy the moment, because I know how precious life is. It inspires me to make him proud.”
“My mum tried her best. Now I try to make her life as enjoyable as I can because she has done so much for my brother and me.”