Former Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith shares with the PFA his decision to depart the A-League, the increasing competition for top playing talent in Asia and why Thailand has exceeded all his expectations.

Q. Was the offer from Bangkok Glass something that came out of the blue?
MS: I was very fortunate that I got an opportunity late in my football career to play at the highest level in Australia and in the back of my mind I always thought about the possibility and opportunity to challenge myself in Asia. There had been offers over the years, in China and Korea, and I guess the decision to come to Thailand was more timing and the opportunity to bring my family here also made it more appealing.

Q. Was it hard to leave the Roar after all the success you had enjoyed?
MS: It was not a decision I took lightly. We discussed it as a family and looked at our future and what would be the most sensible thing for us to do. It was very hard leaving Brisbane, because first and foremost there were some fantastic people there and I made some great friends. Spending five years with a club that was built the way it was started by Ange (Postecoglou) was hard. I had to make a decision that I thought was the best one for my family.

 Q. You are one of many A-League players to move to Asia what were the driving reasons for your departure?
MS: There were a few main reasons to leave. First and foremost was to challenge myself in a new environment and test myself in a different league and club. The second one was to give my family the best opportunity to secure our financial future, and third was to make the most of any football I had left in my career, I plan on playing through till my mid thirties as I’m feeling good and body is healthy but you never know with football and I wanted to make the most of my career opportunities.

Q. Did  your experience at the North Queensland Fury, where you signed a contract only for it not be honoured when the club folded, have an impact on your decision?
MS: Obviously playing at the Fury was one extreme to the other. My family and I were very happy to be finally playing in the A-League and we were planning for the future and then it was taken away and it was a big low point. The big thing sticks in my mind is that I got an opportunity at a different club but there were lots of players that never got another chance in the A-League and that has always been in the back of my mind and why I always tried to sign longer term deals at Brisbane. All players want some security and in the A-League you can never guarantee anything and it is always in the back of your mind.

Q.  How has the adjustment been on and off the pitch to life in Thailand?
MS: My time here for me, and my family, has exceeded my expectations. We have all adjusted very well. From a footballing point of view I was very lucky to get an opportunity here and I have been impressed by everything about the club, it is run very professionally and is extremely progressive. The club owns all its own facilities, it is very well run and set-up and they have a very strong vision for where they want to go and want to compete in Asia regularly.

Q. Has the move to Asia given you a glimpse into how competitive it is becoming in Asia in the battle to secure the top playing talent?
MS: I think Asia is a fantastic place and many countries are becoming more and more appealing to footballers from all over the world. Players from Europe to South America are now coming to Asia. From the outside you can see how well the A-League is respected and many people see it as the best league in Asia. Many players and talking generally, here in Asia would like to come and play in the A-League but respectfully and currently it is more rewarding for them staying elsewhere in Asia. As strong and appealing as the A-League is, this is the position the league is in and something that might need consideration if we are going to attract players to Australia.

Q. Finally, any advice for the PFA’s members who may be looking to make the move into Asia?
MS: If you can, don’t jump at the first thing that comes up. For me, with a wife and three children, I didn’t just want to jump at something without doing my research. I needed to have a lot of trust in my agent and I had to trust that he would not put me in an environment that would be damaging to my career or my family’s life and I did my own research and I asked lots of questions. I knew as much information as I possibly could. It is very different, you do have to adjust and you do have to have an open mind.

Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a former or current player to share insights into lives of professional footballers on and off the pitch.