Former Roar captain 'Mr Smith' celebrated

Brisbane Roar fan and filmmaker Jeremy Santolin has made a short documentary celebrating the career of former captain Matt Smith.

Twelve-minute film ‘Mr Smith’ documents the footballing life of Smith, now with Thai club Bangkok Glass.

Born and raised in England, the defender was let go by Portsmouth as a teenager but rebuilt his career in Australia and eventually made his professional debut for North Queensland Fury at 27.

Smith went on to captain Brisbane and he won three grand finals, two Premier’s Plates while notching three international caps with the Socceroos.

Santolin, a long-time Roar supporter, said he wanted to make a film about a subject he was passionate about.

“I’d been working in the commercial side of the film industry for years making TV commercials, film clips and corporate videos but I wanted to move in to documentaries, so I decided I should just go ahead and make one on a subject I’m passionate about,” he told FourFourTwo. 

“Soon after, I was watching a Brisbane Roar game on TV and Simon Hill briefly mentioned in commentary that Matt Smith only made his professional debut at 27 years old and my ears pricked up immediately. I didn’t know why he made his debut so late but I thought it’s guaranteed to be an interesting story. 

“He’s had a very unusual career path. There are thousands of schoolboys released from professional clubs in England every year, most of them never play professionally, some of them still make it a few years later but I don’t know of many who drop out of the professional system completely only to make their professional debut 10 years later.

“I wanted to know what Matt was doing and what he was thinking during those 10 years. I’ve followed the Roar closely since their inception and was at Suncorp for all three grand finals, in The Den for two of them, losing my voice for Brisbane."

‘Mr Smith’ has been screened on Fox Sports and is available to watch online.

Santolin said the reaction to the documentary has been positive.

“I’ve received heaps of complimentary emails and nice tweets from people who have found Matt’s story really inspiring,” he said.

“Surprisingly, a lot of those people aren’t even football fans. People seem pretty hungry for more A-League stories to be told and several football fans asked me immediately if I was making another film.”

Santolin said he plans to make more films about football.

“I’ll start working on another documentary soon but I don’t have a subject confirmed yet,” he said.

“I’m sure I’ll make more football films in the future, I love it too much to stay away for long.”

Smith joined Bangkok Glass in December after making 112 league appearances for the Roar.

“Matt’s a lovely guy, he was really generous with his time and I’m grateful he gave me everything I needed for the film,” Santolin said.

“As a Roar fan I was very sad to see him leave but a footballer's career is short and Matt’s will be shorter than most, so I can’t blame him for putting his family's future first at this stage of his career. I hope he and his family have a great time in Thailand, he’s worked incredibly hard for every opportunity he’s received.”