What ever happened to Arsenal 'wonderkid' Ryan Smith?

We look at the career of Ryan Smith almost ten years since he first made an impact for the club as an exciting 16-year-old winger.

Ryan Smith? Remember the name Arsenal fans? Most probably will as ten years ago he was being tipped as a future Arsenal and England star after he excelled in a Carling Cup tie against Rotherham as a tender 16-year-old.

His pace was frightening as was his dribbling propensity and the only thing that gave his age away was the gown like Arsenal kit he was wearing. In a Carling Cup team that contained the likes of Cesc Fabregas he shone.

But where on earth is he now?

Things went sour pretty quickly for the talented winger. He was given numerous opportunities by the Arsenal staff to impress. A loan spell at Leicester City was cut short in March of the 2005-06 season after he failed to excite.

Arsenal were then more than happy to let him go and he joined Championship side Derby on a three-year-deal; just one season later and he signed for Millwall in 2007.

When that relationship turned sour he went out on loan to Southampton and eventually signed a six-month contract at St Marys.

Southampton were relegated and Smith was released.

At this point it is 2009; six years since he burst onto the scene with all that promise and talent and at the age of 22 he had come nowhere near fulfilling it.

After a brief spell with Crystal Palace he started to concentrate more and more on his musical talents, even recording a song with fellow professional footballer Neil Danns.

After a spell with Grimsby Town proved fruitless he went on trial with Kansas City Wizards and earned a contract which is where it looked like his career was back on the up.

He originally impressed at the club; even scoring on his debut against DC United.

However just 18 months after signing he left the club without permission and went on trial with Real Zaragoza. The move was doomed to fail and Kansas City refused to let him go.

After that he was no longer wanted at the newly dubbed Sporting Kansas City and was exchanged for draft picks with Los Angeles based Chivas USA.

The rhetoric however continues as after just one year with the club he left the MLS and returned to Europe where he signed a deal with Greek Premier League side Skoda Xanthi in December last year.

The former England under-19 international has since failed to earn a regular place in the starting XI in Greece and with his contract expiring in the summer it looks like once again this will just be a very short-lived spell at yet another club.

For anyone who remembers his talent it is a shame to see it wasted on a journeyman’s career but it seems, ten years on from the shining promise, that is exactly what lies ahead for Ryan Smith.

Who knows where he might pop up next?

What are your memories of Ryan Smith?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

Have something to tell us about this article?

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch