Wolves Academy graduate Peter Smith is currently plying his trade with Swedish club Ytterhogdals IK, but he dreams of returning to Molineux in the Premier League.
He will become part of a group of academy scholars from Britain who have travelled across the North Sea to Scandinavia to reignite their careers, by signing for Englishman Adie Costello’s Division 2 Norrland side.
The 22-year-old left Wolves at the end of the 2013-14 season and enjoyed spells in America and Spain before agreeing a move to Sweden, but he holds memories of his time at his boyhood team dearly.
What are your memories of playing for the Wolves Academy?
I was picked up as an eight-year-old, when I was playing as a striker for my local team. I was voted as the best player at an under-17s tournament in Hungary, and played for Wales at under-16s, under-17s and under-19s levels. I went to a European Under-17s Championships and played against England, Estonia and the Republic of Ireland, and I played in the Victory Shield live on Sky Sports. My favourite memories at Wolves, though, were training alongside some brilliant first-team players, like Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle, under the management of Mick McCarthy every day. I learned a lot from them, because I was used as a striker playing for the Academy.
How did your departure come about? Was it difficult?
Despite being with the club for eight years, there came a time when it was right for me to move on. After McCarthy left, under Stale Solbakken, Dean Saunders and then Kenny Jackett, it became clear that I was not in the club’s long-term plans. We came to a mutual decision for me to leave. I can't lie, it was tough. It was always going to be, I spent the majority of my childhood as a Wolves Academy player. These are all just memories now, though. My main focus is to push on and make even more, but at a professional level. I do not regret my decision to leave. Looking back on it, I have grown as both a person and a player since.
Where did your career take you after leaving Wolves?
I moved to Tyler Junior College in Texas, America, on a soccer scholarship. During my time there, I was voted as the best left-back in the country in my age group and we won a national tournament, which made me realise that playing football at anything less than a professional level would not be enough for me. I then moved to Myrtle Beach Mutiny, a United Soccer League team based in South Carolina. America is a great country to live in and I enjoyed a great lifestyle, but I wanted to be back playing in Europe. I spent some of 2017/18 training with Almunecar in Spain, because I have friends there. I worked hard and felt very fit and played one game for them before receiving various offers from elsewhere.
How did your move to Sweden come about? Are you excited for the challenge ahead?
While I was in Spain, I sat down with my agent and discussed various offers from lots of different countries. I felt blessed to have been given a second chance at professional football. He organised my move to Ytterhogdals IK. Lots of the British players in Sweden have moved there through a scheme ran by Life Football Education and Erasmus, which helps to move young released footballers from Britain to the professional game in Sweden, but this was not the case for me. The team includes Jordan Blinco and he scored 12 goals last season after leaving Sunderland, and there are also graduates from Portsmouth, Wycombe Wanderers and Bradford City, among others. With their help, it should be a comfortable switch for me. The club is based in Ytterhogdal, a small town of only around 600 inhabitants on the southern tip of the country. During the winter, temperatures can reach -30 degrees Celsius, and the people there are warned that their nasal hairs could freeze almost the moment they step outside! I will move there in February, before the start of the Division 2 Norrland season. I am extremely excited to meet my new coach, Costello, and the rest of the squad.
Is moving abroad something you would recommend to British players, particularly considering the successes of Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson in Germany this season?
I would definitely recommend travelling abroad. I found myself as a player again when I moved to America, and I fell back in love with the game after the disappointment of leaving Wolves. It gave me a different perspective. I had been a striker in the Academy, but I was successful playing as a left-back when I was doing my soccer scholarship in Texas. Looking back at my short career so far, I wouldn’t change anything because playing abroad is something I love to do. Having said that, one day I do hope to return to England to play. I am now playing as a left wing-back, which allows me to combine the attacking skills I learned at Wolves and the defensive side of the game that I've developed abroad.
How much do you keep an eye on Wolves' results now? Is your dream to play for Wolves or another Premier League club in the future?
I've always followed the club’s results, because I was there from a young age for nearly a decade. I learned so much from coming through the system and I am very grateful to the staff and my teammates. Hopefully, one day, I can return and finish what I started years ago by playing at Molineux for the first-team. My passion still lies with Wolves but for now my main goal is to push for promotion with my new club in Sweden. Hopefully Wolves have been keeping an eye on my progress, because I am still young. You never know what is around the corner.