As goalkeeper’s go, those at Nottingham Forest down the years have certainly left a mark on the club, and it’s history, even in recent times, that of Brice Samba and Evan Horvath, played their part, no matter how big or small, in the promotion-winning campaign – but spare a thought maybe for the third choice shot-stopper, Jordan Smith.
At 27-years-old, Smith, who dons the clubs’ number twelve jersey, has been with the Reds since his days in the Academy, way back in 2001, joining the club at the tender age of seven, and it would be somewhere he’d spend the next fifteen years.
During his time, he’s seen the Reds play in the old Division One, the Championship, and in League One, next season though, having just recently signed a contract extension at the City Ground, will see Premier League football as well.
Whether he gets game-time or not is a different matter, after all, since making his first team debut, in February 2017, Smith has only made 53 appearances (in all competitions), and especially having not played a single minute during last seasons’ heroics in the Championship.
However, a prime example of a solid, back-up ‘keeper, who stayed with a club for many-a-season without much game-time, is someone at the club whom Forest will play on the opening day of the Premier League season, Newcastle United, and their former ‘keeper, Steve Harper.
He spent some twenty years at St. James’ Park, having joined the club from non-league football in 1993; over the next two decades Harper would be sent out on loan on six occasions, but still go on to make over 150 appearances for the Magpies.
Surprisingly, when considering the number of games he did play, none came in his first five seasons (he went six seasons without making an appearance at all), and for ten seasons with the Magpies, he wouldn’t make a single league appearance.
Mind you, during his tenure with the north-east club, he did have to battle that of Pavel Srnicek, Shaka Hislop, and the long-serving Shay Given, for the number one jersey.
Anyway, back to Smith who, in his early years as a Forest first-teamer, he’d have loan spells at both Ilkeston, and Nuneaton Town, before making his debut, coming on as a substitute in the 23 minute, away to Norwich City, in February 2017.
Although Forest would lose that game, heavily, 5-1, three of those five conceded were done so by Stephen Henderson, who Smith replaced; Smith would keep his first clean sheet for the club a few weeks later, and go on to make fifteen appearances in the second half of that 2016-17 season and his heroics with a fine save on the last day of the season against Ipswich Town will be forever remembered by Forest fans in helping keep the club up.
The following campaign, Smith would register most of his appearances in a Forest jersey, 32 in all competitions, largely under Mark Warburton, but Romanian shot-stopper Costel Pantilimon was signed by Aitor Karanka and Smith was dislodged, the Reds eventually finishing seventeenth in the Championship.
Smith’s Forest first team chances took a downhill slope from that moment, dislodged under Aitor Karanka and never fancied by Sabri Lamouchi, he made just seven more appearances over the next four seasons, a period that would see him take in a brief loan spell with League One side Barnsley, and half a season in League Two, with fellow Nottinghamshire club, Mansfield Town.
Smith’s last, first team appearances for the Reds, they arrived during the 2020-21 campaign; one league game, a 2-0 defeat against Norwich in the March, and two, FA Cup matches, the 1-0 win over Cardiff City, and the next to Swansea City, both in the January, of 2021 under Chris Hughton.
Hindsight though, more where the goalkeeping position is concerned, is perhaps a wonderful thing really when, just a few short months back, in March this year, Smith was provided a contract extension at the club.
Having been expected to leave this summer, he’s now tied to the Trentside club until the summer of 2023 and, with Samba set to leave, Dean Henderson arriving on loan from Manchester United, and Ethan Horvath, both of who will be on World Cup duty with England and the USA (should they picked for the squads) later this year don’t forget, then the time could be right for Smith to stake a claim.
Alongside those first team ‘keepers, Forest are blessed throughout, the Reds’ U23s sees the pairing of Nicky Hogarth and George Shelvey keeping the sticks, whilst the U18s also has the trio of Alex Akers, Aaron Bott, and Kane Draper – so Forest, they’re well-blessed in that department.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Jordan Smith is very much still a big part of the Nottingham Forest squad.