EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Celtic midfielder Smith loving life in Colorado
Jamie Smith is loving life with Major League Soccer outfit Colorado Rapids. The 29-year old midfielder/forward joined the club in May 2009 after spending more than a decade in his homeland of Scotland and enjoying a stint in Holland.
He has settled well in Commerce City, Denver to be a part of the squad that currently sits in 6th place on the Western Conference table and from the sounds of things, he is in no hurry to leave the USA and return to Scotland.
"I have some great memories from my time at Celtic," Smith begun. "Making my debut (in1997) and scoring on my first three performances, playing against some great teams and players in European competitions.
"Reaching the Uefa Cup final and playing against Liverpool in the quarter-final was a great experience."
Smith spent about seven years at Parkhead (during that time he was sent out on loan to Livingston) but towards the end of his time there, he failed to appear regularly in the first team and decided to move to Dutch Eredivisie club ADO Den Haag, based in The Hague in Holland.
"As much as I enjoyed playing at Celtic, I wasn't getting enough starts and so the opportunity came about to play in Holland," he said of his career change. "It was new to me and it was exciting and I jumped at the chance to face a new challenge. The Eredivisie is a really good league, there is more emphasis on passing but still very competitive."
After a year in Holland with his wife and kids living in Scotland, Smith decided that a return to Scotland was the best thing.
"Aberdeen came calling and I was delighted to go and play there," he said.
Four years later he found himself in Colorado in a league he did not know a whole lot about but he soon fell in love with his new life in the USA.
"I feel that of all the leagues that I have played in, the Scottish and Dutch leagues were similar in many ways," he said when asked about the comparisons of the SPL, Eredivisie and MLS. "The fans were great and the style of play was pretty much at the same level.
"In America it is different. The games are not as well supported but when "soccer" has to compete with American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey, it is understandable.
"I really love living in Colorado. It is such a great place to stay and I am really enjoying the football out here. I still look up the results of my old teams and I'm in touch with some of my old teammates.
"I have made many new friends and I feel that I have been blessed by coming here. I am a Christian and when I first came to the Rapids, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that we have a team chaplain and we do a team Bible study every Wednesday night. Having never had that at previous clubs, it was so refreshing and like I said before, it has been a blessing."
Smith has appeared 12 times for the Rapids this season after returning from a serious knee injury, which restricted him to four games in his first year at the club, and he is enjoying playing under former Fulham, Colchester United and Wycombe Wanderers midfielder Gary Smith, so much so that he is keen to stick around at the club.
"I have a good relationship with Gary, our coach," Smith said. "He has a different approach to the game which is really good. He is a young coach and it's refreshing to be a part of the set-up at the Rapids.
"I don't know what is next for me. I try not to look too far into the future. I hope that I can remain in Denver but God will put me where He wants me to be."