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Worcestershire cup hero Smith revels in Liverpool FA Cup shock
STRIKER Matt Smith is still coming to terms with becoming an FA Cup hero against Liverpool just two years after playing Worcestershire parks football.
The 6ft 6ins 23-year-old wrote himself into Oldham Athletic folklore on Sunday by scoring two goals in the League One Latics’ stunning fourth-round 3-2 victory over the Premier League giants, seven-time winners of the competition.
His two first-half strikes at Boundary Park, alongside a goal from Bromsgrove-born Reece Wabara, set up a home fifth-round tie against the Reds’ Merseyside rivals Everton.
It is the latest chapter in former Evesham United junior Smith’s meteoric rise in the game, which began in Worcestershire at Midland Combination side Littleton while studying for a degree following his release from Cheltenham Town.
He went on to play for Redditch United, Droylsden and Solihull Moors before being snapped up by Oldham 18 months ago.
The triumph was the first time Liverpool, featuring the likes of Luiz Suarez and Steven Gerrard, had been beaten away from home in the FA Cup by a team at least two divisions below them since losing 2-1 against Worcester City at St George’s Lane in 1959.
Smith, who also played in Oldham’s 5-1 third-round defeat against Liverpool last season, said: “It’s still quite surreal, it was an unbelievable and unforgettable day.
“I look back to my university days, which weren’t that long ago, and it’s all been a very rapid rise in footballing terms but it’s been incredible.
“Last year I was fortunate to play 25 minutes at Anfield, which was incredible, but this is above and beyond anything I have ever experienced.”
He continued: “I can’t really tell you what was going through my head at the time. My focus was just to stay in sync with the game and not get carried away.
“To score not one but two goals and get man-of-the-match was the icing on the cake. It was phenomenal.”
Smith, a former pupil at King’s School, Worcester, was watched from the stands by his mother Francoise and father Dr Ian Smith, a former striker for Birmingham City and Hearts who is now a GP in Evesham.
“It was a wonderful experience and we are a proud mother and father,” Dr Smith said.
“What he did was far bigger than what I have ever done in football.
“It was a tremendous occasion.”