Walsall have appointed Dean Smith as first-team Manager.
Smith has beaten over 90 other candidates to land the Manager’s job until the end of the season after impressing as caretaker boss, he was previously the Club’s Head of Youth.
“We are really pleased to have Dean on board on a full-time basis,” explained Chief Executive, Stefan Gamble. “The rest of the Board and I have been very impressed with how he has conducted himself since taking over the first-team reins and we are confident in his abilities as a Manager.”
“He has all the relevant qualifications, including his UEFA Pro License, and he fits the bill in terms of what we are looking for, which is a young, fresh and hungry coach.”
“We had a large number of applicants for the role, over 90 in total. There were some excellent candidates but, as a Board, we believe that Dean’s attributes reflect the modern and innovative approach to football management we are seeking.”
“When we considered all of the options available to us we felt that it was important that we made a positive decision on the Manager’s position sooner rather than later to give ourselves the best possible chance of turning our season around.”
Smith’s assignment will not be an easy one, the Saddlers currently sit bottom of League One seven points away from safety but Gamble believes the former Saddlers skipper is the right man for the job and has also promised funds to spend in the January window.
“There are 22 games left this season and we have everything to play for. Funds are available to Dean should he wish to make changes to his squad during the January Transfer Window and we are a fully behind him as I’m sure our supporters will be.”
39 year old Smith came up through the Walsall ranks and went on to make over 150 appearances for the Club between 1989 and 1999, becoming the Club’s youngest-ever captain at the age of just 19.
In 1994, the central defender was sold to Hereford United in an £80,000 deal, which was a record transfer fee for the Bulls at the time. He went on to skipper Hereford and helped them reach the play-offs in 1995-96 before moving to Leyton Orient in 1997.
He twice skippered the O’s to the play-off final and scored 32 goals for the Club in 239 League outings before he moved up into Division One with Sheffield Wednesday. Once more his leadership qualities came to the fore and earned him the captain’s armband.
Eventually joining Port Vale in March 2004, his playing days ended when he accepted the role of Youth team coach back at Leyton Orient. It was his first foot on the coaching ladder and led to his appointment as Assistant Manager at the end of the 2004-05 season, a position that he held until January 2009.
Smith returned to Walsall in July of that year as Head of Youth, a role he excelled in before taking over the reins at the Banks’ Stadium.
“It’s an honour to be given the job on a full-time basis,” added Smith. “I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of weeks and I am fully-focused on the task at hand. It is a fantastic opportunity for me and it’s one in which I’m relishing.”
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and I am confident that together – players, staff and supporters – we can achieve our goals.”