Chris Smalling departed Manchester United at the beginning of the 2019/20 season in a loan move which saw him join Italian side AS Roma. Smalling has now explained his reasons for choosing to leave to England and head for Italian league, Serie A.
Smalling has been a United player for the last 10-years after joining the Reds from Fulham all the way back in 2010. He has made over 200 appearances for United and won eight trophies, including two Premier League titles.
At the time it was announced Smalling would be joining United on a four-year deal, then manager, Sir Alex Ferguson was quoted by The Guardian saying: “Chris is an extremely talented young defender who we have been monitoring for some months. He is very quick and reads the game well. He will be a great asset to the club, playing alongside some of the best defenders around, and we are delighted to have secured his signature.”
However, after such encouraging words from legend boss Sir Alex Ferguson, Smalling has found himself repeatedly criticised by fans and pundits.
There has always seemed to be a sense of disappointment surrounding Smalling, with him falling short of fulfilling his potential. Smalling has often been seen to be one half of a major defensive weak link, especially when playing alongside fellow Englishman, Phil Jones. The general assessment of Chris Smalling’s tenure at United is that he has failed to fill the void that the previous defensive partnership of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand had left.
At the turn of the 2019/20 season Smalling opted to swap Old Trafford for the Stadio Olimpico, home to Italian legends, AS Roma in a one-year loan deal.
The centre back has endured a very respectable season, thus far, for his temporary Italian employers. Smalling has made 21 appearances for AS Roma, even managing to bag himself two goals in the Serie A along the way, a feat no English player has achieved since David Beckham in the 2008/09 season for AC Milan.
With all but the German Bundesliga halted, Smalling has taken the time to publicly explain the reason behind his decision to venture abroad.
During an interview with The Times, Smalling said: “Some English players have gone abroad but not many. It was a challenge that I wanted to take. I’m someone who definitely lives by not having any regrets. I like new things maybe out of my comfort zone and show people that anything is possible.”
He added: “I obviously enjoy my football, I enjoy my life and I try to maximise all of that but seeing kids flourish and invest in people who have good ideas is where I get my main fulfilment.”
Smalling also gave his views on the current COVID-19 pandemic and expressed support for Premier League players who have recently publicly expressed their concerns, such as Troy Deeney and Danny Rose.
Smalling said: “I can understand everyone’s position if they’ve not got that full clarity. Everybody wants to be as informed as possible. Fortunately, here at Roma, I feel like they have that clarity. They’ve kept us in the loop. We had regular meetings with the CEO [Guido Fienga], talking about different measures, and keeping us up to date. That’s been very useful to know their discussions with the league and the doctors and they are relaying that straight back to us.
He concluded by saying “That’s why I feel like a lot of players here are comfortable about coming back, knowing the different measures.”