Jamie Paterson indebted to former Walsall boss
Former Walsall star Jamie Paterson has praised Dean Smith for playing an instrumental role in his development.
Paterson, who currently plays for Swansea City, faced a major setback during his youth days at Walsall when he broke his ankle.
Smith had been appointed head of youth in 2009, before taking the reins as first-team manager 18 months later.
Paterson would go on to become a key figure for Walsall, especially during the 2012-13 campaign when he found the net 13 times – a tally which still remains his best in a single season.
But his journey at Walsall wasn’t without its struggles, and Paterson credits Smith for helping him through those difficulties.
“I signed at Walsall, and came through the youth team. I broke my ankle in my first season so I only had one year to show what I can do,” Paterson revealed via Sky Bet.
“Dean Smith came in as my youth manager in my second year and gave me so much belief and confidence, and I had a really good season. Dean became a first-team manager the same time I went pro – he was a major key in my career.
“Some managers can be stand-offish, everyone has different styles, Dean Smith was very hands on. He used to speak to you, have a laugh, and he was the first manager that I had as well.
“It was perfect for me to come through with him as the manager, he really put him arm around me because I struggled when I first got in.
“If I had to put it down to anybody in my career, I owe the majority of it to Dean Smith to be honest.
“He went on to do really well, it doesn’t surprise me at all, he went and took his hometown club and got them promoted, which is unbelievable.
“I know he’s out of a job now, but he’s one of my favourite managers so hopefully he gets back into football because he’s a top man.”