Smith Leslie Image 1 Aston Villa 1947

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Description

Ealing, London born outside left Leslie Smith began his football career with Petersham and first joined the books of Brentford as an amateur in June 1934. He played for Wimbledon in 1934 and Hayes in 1935 before signing professional forms with (now First Division club) Brentford in March 1936, making his Football League debut against Bolton Wanderers that August. Initially he played a dozen or so matches a season as The Bees recorded two 6th place finishes in 1936-37 and 1937-38, but he came into their team on a regular basis from September 1938, and such was the impact of his play that he was capped by England in May 1939, replacing the injured Stanley Matthews against Romania to become Brentford’s second and final England international to date following Billy Scott in 1936.

By the time the Second World War broke out in September 1939, Smith had scored 7 goals in 67 appearances for Brentford. He then played a vital part in the RAF as a rear gunner, where he consequently met his future wife, Joan (who was part of the women’s RAF). However Smith still managed to play for Brentford during the War. He also played 13 wartime internationals for England, 11 whilst a Brentford player and 2 having been transferred to Aston Villa in October 1945 for a fee of £7,500. He also played in 3 ‘unofficial International matches’, under the guise of an FA XI, but all players played in England shirts, all were English and all received notification on English FA headed paper.

Smith spent six seasons at Aston Villa and became a crowd favourite, being an ever present during Villa’s first two peacetime seasons. However from February 1951 he could no longer be assured of a first team place. In June 1952, after 37 goals in 197 appearances for Aston Villa, he returned to now Second Division club Brentford for a fee of £3,000, where he spent a final season, scoring once in 14 further matches, before retiring. After his retirement he became the manager of Kidderminster Harriers but left in 1954, before becoming a scout for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

NB in the photograph taken he stands far right with Aston Villa forwards (l-r) John Graham, Jackie Martin, George Edwards and Dickie Dorsett. This photograph was taken before a 2-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day 1947.

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