Focus On; Denis Smith

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Denis Smith (born 19 November 1947) is an English former professional footballer and manager. He made 531 appearances in all competitions in 15 seasons as a player in the Football League, and as a manager took charge for 1,195 competitive matches.

Born in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, he joined local club Stoke City as an amateur in 1964, making his first-team debut in September 1968. A hard-tackling defender, he soon established himself in the first team, playing in a centre-back partnership with Alan Bloor for much of his career. Stoke enjoyed one of the most successful periods of their history during his time at the club, as he helped Stoke to win the League Cup in 1972, featuring in successive FA Cup semi-finals in 1971 and 1972 and helping the club to successive fifth-place finishes in the First Division in 1973–74 and 1974–75. His bravery as a player meant that he also entered the Guinness Book of Records as the most injured man in football, although he was never able to fully recover after breaking his leg for the fifth time in his career in March 1975. He did manage to continue to play competitive football, and helped Stoke to win promotion from the Second Division in 1978–79. He missed the entire 1980–81 season due to injury, and left the club in May 1982.

He began his management career at York City in May 1982, having played for the club on loan the previous season. He led the club to the Fourth Division title in 1983–84, totalling five seasons at the club. He took charge of Sunderland in May 1987, and took the club to the Third Division title in 1987–88, before getting the club promoted from the Second Division in 1989–90. Dismissed by Sunderland in December 1991, he took charge at Bristol City three months later. He steered the club away from relegation in 1992–93, but was dismissed in January 1993 after falling out with the club’s directors. He was appointed manager of Oxford United in September 1993 and, although unable to avoid relegation in 1993–94, led the club to promotion from the Second Division in 1995–96. He switched clubs to West Bromwich Albion in December 1997, remaining in charge for two-and-a-half seasons before being dismissed in July 1999.

He returned to manage Oxford in February 2000, and steered the club away from relegation in 1999–2000 before resigning in October 2000. In October 2001 he was appointed manager of Wrexham, but was unable to steer the club away from relegation in 2001–02. He won promotion from the Third Division at the first attempt in 2002–03, but Wrexham entered administration in December 2004 and the resulting points deduction saw them relegated once more. Despite the financial problems he managed the club to the Football League Trophy title in 2005, in addition to two successive FAW Premier Cup wins in 2002 and 2003. He was dismissed in January 2007, months after the club exited administration. He married in October 1967 and has three children.


  • Full Name: Denis Smith
  • Position: Defender
  • Date of Birth: 19.11.1947
  • Birthplace: Meir, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Nation: England
  • Caps: –
  • Goals: –
  • Club Career: Stoke City
  • Period: 1968-1982
    • League Games, 407
    • League Goals, 29
    • Previous Club: –
      • Transfer Fee: –
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