Few 17-year-olds have such a commanding presence on the field of
play as Roy Smith. Luckily for Costa Rica, the muscular defender is
none other than their captain, and his inspirational leadership is
driving them to ever-greater heights at Korea 2007.
The Costa Rican No 3 is sure to be a key figure in his side's bid to topple Argentina in Goyang City on Thursday and claim a berth in the last eight of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007. And in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, the solid centre-half tells us all about his oriental adventure so far.
As Smith explains, pulling on the captain's armband is a great honour, and every time he runs out on the pitch his aim is to dispatch his duties the best he can. "The coach chose me and I'm just trying to fulfil the responsibilities that come with the job - things like talking to the players and organising the team. Playing at the back also helps me to see everything that's going on."
A big game
Roy is aware that the forthcoming tie with Argentina will be his side's sternest test to date, and not just because of the calibre of the opposition. Smith and his team-mates know that defeat means the end of their Korean voyage. With that in mind, the skipper is determined to keep their challenge afloat.
"This is where the fun starts and I think we've got the quality to take on anyone," insists Smith. "We know how good Argentina are, but that's what we've been preparing for. They're a very fine side, but I'm confident we can beat them."
The Central Americans will need to draw on their strengths if they are to do that, and as far as Smith is concerned it is their commitment and attractive team play that has got them this far. "Our greatest asset is that we're a team. There are no stars here, and everyone just rolls their sleeves up. That togetherness is our main strength."
The boy from Limon with an English name
Anyone unfamiliar with Costa Rican demographics might be surprised to see someone called Roy Smith running out for the Ticos. But as the captain points out, there is an historical explanation behind his English-sounding name. "I come from Limon, a province where there were a lot of black immigrants, and that's why a lot of the people there have English names."
Moreover, Limon is also famed for providing some of the country's best-loved footballing sons, players of the calibre of Carlos Toppings, Harold Wallace, William Sunsing and Kurt Bernard among them.
Continuing the Limon lineage along with Smith is his team-mate, namesake and fellow defender Jordan. And the similarities do not stop there. The duo are so alike they could easily be mistaken for brothers. "Some people have said that because we look so much like each other, have the same surname and come from the same area," explains Roy. "Jordan is just a good friend, though, and a great player too." No doubt the Smith boys will be hoping Argentina will be just as confused tomorrow.