The first time I met Jim Smith was at a Little Chef at the services at South Mimms on the M25.
I was playing for Southend. He had agreed a deal with them but wanted to meet me. You can imagine how nervous I was to meet the manager of Derby when they were challenging for promotion to the Premier League.
He said: “I like the way you play but I wanted to meet you, and I want to know what your plans are.” He wanted to know where I was living, if I had a girlfriend or a wife, and if I was getting married or had kids.
He wanted to know everything about me before I put pen to paper. That was early man-management from him – I’d only previously experienced that with managers I was already playing for.
Now we all hear about long dossiers on players, but that was the first time I’d encountered it. But Jim was great, and he was great company – a real raconteur, really funny and genuine. I really wanted to play for him.
I always smile, and I often laugh, when I talk about him.