Alan Smith has denied claims that Liverpool fans attacked the ambulance he was travelling to hospital in following the former Manchester United man's horror injury at Anfield.
Smith joined the Red Devils in a £7 million deal from another of their arch rivals, Leeds, in 2004, going on to make 61 league outings for the Old Trafford outfit.
He would have made many more were it not for a terrible injury he suffered in February 2006; breaking a leg and dislocating an ankle while attempting to block a John Arne Riise free-kick in an FA Cup tie against Liverpool.
Reports at the time suggested Reds fans had pummeled the ambulance taking Smith to hospital with bottles, beer glasses and stones, and rocked it as they revelled in the fact one of their enemy’s players was in serious distress.
I’ve appreciated every game I’ve played since that injury because I know how close I was to being finished
But Smith, speaking exclusively in the May 2015 issue of FourFourTwo, only has good things to say about the Merseysiders’ conduct.
“It didn’t happen – fans were still in the ground,” he says. “I went back to Liverpool a few years later with Newcastle and had a great reception.
“I had loads of mail from fans after the injury, including a lot from Liverpool. And Liverpool’s medical staff were great. They were worried that because there was no blood flowing that I could have had a club foot.
“It wasn’t Riise’s fault and he came to see me. The dislocated ankle was worse than the leg break because I snapped ligaments and there were complications.
“I knew I was never going to be the same player. I’ve appreciated every game I’ve played since that injury, I know how close I was to being finished.”
Read the full One-on-One interview with Alan Smith in the May 2015 issue of FourFourTwo, which also features our annual Top 50 Football League Players. This month’s magazine also examines whether Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp is poised to move to the Premier League, chats to Nacer Chadli, Simon Mignolet and Ryan Bertrand about the chase for the Champions League and meets the hardest player ever (that you’ve never heard of). Subscribe!