All Whites defender Tommy Smith is the latest recruit to former national team coach Anthony Hudson’s Colorado Rapids.
27-year-old Smith joins from English Football League Championship Club Ipswich Town where he was a product of the Academy programme before signing a professional contract in 2007. He went on to make 267 appearances for the club tallying 23 goals and 11 assists along the way.
With such close ties to Ipswich Town the decision to pursue a new pathway was a tough one for the former England youth international.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, leaving the club I love for an amazing new opportunity,” he said.
“The memories I’ve made here I will cherish forever as me and my wife move on to exciting new adventures together.
“I just wanted to show my love and appreciation to the club, current and former players, staff and the town for being so supportive throughout the last 11 and a half years. I will certainly be back as a fan in the future that’s for sure.”
Rapids Executive Vice-President and General Manager Pádraig Smith said one of the club’s goals of the off-season was to add more experience to their defence.
“Bringing in someone of Tommy’s caliber along the back line was a top priority for us this off-season,” he said.
“His experience and leadership will be great assets for us and we look forward to him joining us in Arizona this week for the start of pre-season training camp.”
Smith joins fellow All Whites defenders Kip Colvey and Deklan Wynne at the club, which has also acquired former New Zealand U-20 coach and All Whites assistant coach Darren Bazeley and technical analyst Jase Kim, since Hudson took over the reins.
The defender said the decision came on the back of wanting more game time and was made a little easier given the existing relationship he has with the former All Whites coach.
“That chance to play regular football again was key for me. I’ve had my injury problems over the last 18 months, two years but when I have been fit, I’ve been in and out of the team.
“That has been hard to take when before that I played regularly over three or four years.
“I had a chat with the manager here [at Ipswich Town] and he was very understanding and supportive when the chance came up to go to Colorado. With the opportunity to play regularly and the life experiences that I will get from the move, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“Looking ahead, the opportunity to join the Rapids – a club who have a very ambitious vision for the future – was too great. I look forward to playing a key role in bringing that vision to life. Our goal is to bring another MLS Cup to Colorado.”