Ex-Phoenix star Alex Smith joins Heat
“Heat has big ambitions with the owners and the area does produce really good players,” the 28-year-old told au.fourfourtwo.com.
Smith will combine playing with an assistant coach role at the NPL club.
“Now they’ve got an NPL team and play all over Queensland. It’s a great time to join the club and they’re really getting involved in the community up there which fits with what I want to do," he added.
After two seasons and 42 appearances in the Phoenix jersey, Smith parted ways with the Wellington outfit as part of a clear-out that included long-time Kiwi defender Tony Lochhead and Spaniard Dani Sanchez.
Since then, Smith has been plying his trade for Oakleigh Cannons in the VPL under his former Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg.
He trialed with Newcastle Jets in the off-season, but with a number of central midfielders already on the Hunter club’s books, they weren’t able to squeeze him in.
However the former Sydney Olympic goal-scoring midfielder now has a chance to return to where it all began for him after landing in Cairns over five years ago.
Smith and his wife have a house in Cairns so the move back is logical even though a get-out clause for an A-League club will allow the midfielder to pursue his career on the national stage.
Cairns has produced the likes of Zenon Caravella, Michael Thwaite, Wayne Shroj and Steve Corica, and the Heat are backed by some powerful local business people who have big ambitions for the young club.
Using his A-League experience, Smith hopes to polish up local talents with a focus on preparing for games and better training techniques.
Smith, who will receive his Australian citizenship next year, will finalise his ‘C’ coaching licence by next month.
And at Heat, Smith will have a chance to work with a rising star in Jamie Carroll, who was recently named by FourFourTwo Australia magazine as one of the top talents outside the A-League.
Smith hopes he can get a chance to shine on the national stage again -- and he may even get a chance to shine for Heat in the new FFA Cup kicking off next year.
He added: “I cannot wait to get back. But if an offer from the A-League came I’d leave but they know that. They’ve said they want me for as long as we can get you.
"So it’s a win-win.”