Stone Dominoes player wins contract at Swindon Town

A youngster from Stoke-on-Trent has beaten 5,000 applicants to win a one-year professional deal at Swindon Town.

Right-back Chris Smith, 21, had been playing for Stone Dominoes in the North West Counties Premier League.

After impressing in regional rounds, he came up against four other players in the final before being chosen as the winner by Robins boss Paolo di Canio.

"When he [Di Canio] said I was the winner I was stuck for words," Smith told BBC Radio Stoke.

"It was him who rang me and spoke to me on the phone. I was a bit lost for words as I couldn't believe he just rang me. It was the best feeling ever."

As well as playing for Dominoes, who are in the fifth tier of non-league football, Smith is a second-year student at Staffordshire University.

He admits that before entering the competition - run by Samsung - he had almost given up hope of becoming a full-time player.

"I thought I'd missed my chance to turn professional two or three years ago," he said. "I wanted to start a career in coaching or something to do with sport. I never thought I was going to get a contract or I was going to win.

"Paolo must have seen something in me. I don't know exactly why he picked me. Maybe the way I played at right-back resembled the right-back he's got at the moment."

Speaking to BBC Late Kick Off, Di Canio said: "Chris looked older than his age. As a right-back he has a fantastic quality. He's not very tall but when he challenges the opponent he has balance. Also, on the ball he is very good."

You can see more about Chris and his story on Late Kick Off South, South West and West on BBC One from 2305 GMT

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