Matt Smith has revealed why he drew stumps on a promising cricket career to pursue the football pathway that led him to Perth.
The St Johnstone midfielder was a Worcestershire County Cricket star of the future in his teens.
A private school scholarship to play the summer sport was on the table.
However, Smith was also impressing at West Brom’s academy.
Desire to follow dad Rob, an ex-Coventry City youth prospect, was too strong and he gave up the pads and whites for good.
Smith snr claimed FA Youth Cup glory in 1987 – the same year John Sillett’s Sky Blues heroes famously beat Spurs to land the FA Cup.
Capped on 19 occasions by Wales, his son has justified the decision to devote himself to football when he approached that early crossroads.
Smith explained: “When I was 14, I faced a choice between cricket and football.
“I wanted to go to a school to play cricket but they said I could only play my football for their school team
“That would’ve meant stopping with West Brom and that didn’t make sense to me.
“I love cricket, I still do. It was a big part of my childhood. When football stopped for the summer, I played cricket.
“But the higher up I got, there were more demands. I couldn’t do two things at once.
“I spoke to my dad. I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I enjoyed football more.
“I always felt I was better at football and it was a better progression for me as a career.
“It was quite an easy decision. Dad played with Coventry until 18, then non-league for a bit.
“I’ve always said I wanted to do better than him if I could. It gave me motivation.
“He said to me after I got called up for the World Cup this time last year: ‘I think you can say you’ve done better than me now!’
“It was a nice moment. He was a big role model to me – and still is.”
Smith moved from WBA to Manchester City later in his teens.
He continued his development with loans down the English leagues and in the Dutch second tier, winning a title at Twente.
The 23-year-old was allowed to leave MK Dons for Saints in the summer before enduring a nightmare start.
Amid an injury crisis, former Saints boss Steven MacLean was forced to field Smith in an alien wide right role as Saints crashed 2-0 in Dingwall.
Today’s visit of Ross County is something of a revenge date for Smith.
He recalled: “That was a tough afternoon. There was a fair few injuries and lads coming back weren’t quite ready.
“I could’ve done better in my performance but it was new to me playing out wide.
“The gaffer spoke to me after and said he understood that wasn’t really how I could get on the ball and get us going. We didn’t land a glove on Ross County.
“Thankfully we’re in a different place now. This is an opportunity to right those wrongs.”