Korey Smith | There was a time I wondered if I'd play again, this is special
Korey Smith has described going to Wembley with Swansea City as a dream following the injury troubles that left him wondering if his career was over; but he wants to make sure the story has a fairytale ending.
The midfielder joined the Swans last summer after six years at Bristol City, and is enjoying his first taste of the Championship play-offs.
The 30-year-old helped Steve Cooper’s side book their final place as a second-half substitute in the second leg draw with Barnsley.
That ensured a 2-1 aggregate success and set up a Wembley date against Brentford on Saturday with a place in the Premier League on the line.
Prior to his move to the Swans, Smith had endured two injury-hit seasons at Ashton Gate, with ankle and foot problems limiting his involvement.
He admits those issues had him pondering whether he would play again, but he feels he has had a new lease of life at the Liberty and is desperate to repay the club’s faith in him by sealing promotion.
“It has been great for me to play a lot of games and to help the team get to Wembley is something I could only have dreamed of,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s well known I’d effectively been out for a couple of years before I came here. I did not play many games and had two or three operations.
“The gaffer here took a chance on me, in a way, and I have worked my socks off to get to this position and try and repay him.
“So, to go from a point where I actually wondered if I would play football again to be going to Wembley…worlds can’t describe that.
“I am over the moon, it’s been a long season, a hard season.
“I have been in the Championship many years and this was by far one of the most challenging with the schedule and everything that has gone on.
“Fair play to everyone at the club over the season, to get to the final is great.
“But the main goal is promotion, and that’s the next step.”
The second leg against the Tykes also allowed Smith to play in front of the Jack Army for the first time since his move to SA1, and he acknowledged the experience did not disappoint, even though he wanted to make clear he has been aware and appreciative of their support all year.
“I have been gutted not to be able to play in front of them until now, but I have felt that support from them throughout my time here,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of messages on social media and when I go to the shops or am around the city.
“So, personally I have felt that and it’s been great knowing I have their backing and they are behind me and everyone else.
“I have really appreciated that, and to have them there on Saturday was magical.”