"He was the first tracksuit physio. He was one of us." John Breckin pays tribute to former Rotherham United physio Alan Smith

ROTHERHAM United favourite John Breckin has paid tribute to Alan Smith, the former Millers and England physiotherapist who has died at the age of 74.

Alan's own playing career at Middlesbrough was cut short by a broken leg, setting him on a path to a highly successful career as a physio that began at Rotherham in 1972 and then took him to Blackpool, Sheffield Wednesday and eventually to the national team.

Breckin had a close-up view of Smith's early days at Millmoor.

"When I first joined Rotherham United there was a medical team but it wasn't like the modern-day," said John.

"Alan was the first 'tracksuit' physio that I knew.

"He could play football so he knew what it was all about. He knew the psychology of it. He could talk to you about the football side of things. He was one of us.

"Alan was so professional with every player. There was no favouritism. Whether you were a young lad at 19 or a senior pro like Johnny Quinn, you got the same attention."

Alan got his first taste of the England set-up in 1986 under Sir Bobby Robson and went on to spend eight years at international level, helping stars like Alan Shearer and David Beckham.

After retirement he was still involved in his private practice Wickersley where he continued to work until shortly before his death.

"Alan was always going to get on to better things, you could see that," added 'Breck'.

"He had a fantastic career and it was nice that he cut his teeth at Rotherham and we were part of that.

"We became friends and I can't speak highly enough of him. You could speak to Seamus McDonagh, Mick Leng, Richard Finney, all those lads, they would all basically say the same thing about him.

"He will be sadly missed."

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