Name: Craig Mackail-Smith
Date of Birth: 25/02/1984
Club: Brighton and Hove Albion
Previous Clubs: St Albans City, Arlesey Town, Dagenham and Redbridge, Peterborough United.
What do you remember about your first ever match?
I was 16 playing non-league football for St Albans and the manager said to me that I was going to start the game. I can't remember who it was against but it was certainly nerve-racking because I'd come from playing boys football to then going in to men's football and it was completely different. I felt like I held my own, though, and I really enjoyed it. I knew that I wanted a career in football from there.
Who was your childhood hero?
Alan Shearer was my striking idol who I would watch and try to replicate because he scored so many goals, and different types of finishes as well.
When did you realise you had a chance to progress in the game?
I've always believed that I was good enough to play professional football. To be honest it was a case of enjoying it and having fun. I moved from Dagenham to Peterborough United when I was 22 and that was my first pro club at nearly 23, but I never stopped believing that I could do it.
Which coach has had the biggest influence on your career?
I think there is two. John Still at Dagenham, who gave me the opportunity to play and moved me from a winger to a centre-forward. I don't think I would have scored as many goals on the wing. The other one was Mark Robson who was at Peterborough in my last season. As a coach he kind of took me aside and helped me with my finishing and movement. That is what made me score as many goals as I did for Peterborough a couple of season ago.
What did you spend your first wage packet on?
I think I went and bought a TV for my bedroom because I had one of them box televisions. I went and got myself a big plasma one.
Does your squad number have a special meaning to you?
Well it was the first number given to me when I joined Peterborough, so it was my first pro number, and I have had it ever since - it's kind of synonymous with me.
Who did you last swap shirts with?
It was Matt Gilks who plays for Blackpool. We have played for Scotland together and he is a good lad.
How has the game changed for the better since you became a pro?
There is more televised games now then there was when I started. You have the npower Championship, League 1, League 2 as well as some Conference games on TV. It is great for people to see all tiers of English football and allows kids to see what they need to do to achieve where they want to get to.
If you could have coached yourself when you were a teenager, what advice would you have passed on?
To enjoy it and not to take football too seriously. Just enjoy something you love.
If you stay in the game at the end of your career, what will you do? a) Manager b) Coach c) Scout d) Physio e) Pundit?
I would like to be a manager or be a coach. I think I need to start to take my coaching badges this year so hopefully when I finish I can go straight into management or be a number two to someone.
What do you want to be best remembered for at the end of your career?
For being hard-working and someone who could score goals.
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