By Alex Stevens
Alan Smith has claimed that he does not blame Leeds fans for jeering him after he joined Newcastle.
The former Elland Road striker played 172 games for his boyhood club before the Yorkshire giants suffered financial meltdown.
With Leeds having just been relegated from the Premier League, Smith was offloaded to United for £7million in 2004 and then switched to Newcastle for £1.7million in 2007.
The 35-year-old converted midfielder, who now plays for for League Two outfit Notts County, faced Leeds for the first time in 2009 during a pre-season friendly for Newcastle.
Responding to a question about the response he got from angry Leeds fans, Smith told Four Four Two: “It wasn’t too bad. I’m not silly – I don’t live in a world where I think football fans would be complimentary about players who leave their club.
“If I had been a Leeds fan and one of the players had left for a rival club, I’d probably have booed. But if nobody cared when I left and wished me well because they weren’t bothered about me going, I’d have failed as a player.
“Leeds are the club I support. I’ve never spoken about leaving, but I don’t need to justify it given the circumstances at the time.”
Smith also revealed to Four Four Two that he did not want to quit Leeds 12 years ago at a time when he was an England international playing at the club he had supported.
“I would probably never have left if we hadn’t gone down, but Leeds were trying to sell me to the highest bidder,” he said.
“As for the criticism, I’d have been a fool if I thought that wouldn’t happen. I’d been at the club when Eric [Cantona] left to go to Old Trafford.
“I was ball boy the day he came back and scored at the [Elland Road] Kop and saw the feelings that day.
“I spoke to Sir Alex and he said: ‘I never thought you’d be brave enough to make that decision.’
“But the Leeds I left wasn’t the Leeds I knew. There were people in charge of the club who I didn’t like. I went to meetings and saw some bizarre things.
“I had the chance to go from a team who’d been relegated to the champions. Arguably the greatest club manager ever wanted me. How could I turn that down?”
In other Leeds news, a forward has signed for Nottingham Forest after quitting Leeds.