It is a decision every footballer must confront at some stage in their careers: what to do when you stop playing. Some stay in the game and move into coaching and management while a role in the media has also become an increasingly popular route. Others opt for a complete change.
Tommy and Jack Smith have no plans to hang up their boots for a while yet but they have taken a big step to forging a career outside of the game by taking over the sales arm of Bushey Heath-based estate agents and chartered surveyors John Whiteman and Company.
While this may not seem an obvious career move, the brothers have a long-standing familiarity with the property world through their father David.
Cardiff City player Tommy explained: “Our dad’s a chartered surveyor, we’ve always been buying and selling throughout our careers and he’s helped us along with the properties and moving. We’ve always both had an interest in property in that respect and the opportunity came along to invest and take over this place.
“We’re both not getting any younger, we both decided we’re probably not going to go into the management side of football and it would be nice to have a clean break and move into something and the opportunity came up at the right time for us so we thought we’d go for it.”
The brothers, who are the last siblings to appear in the same Watford team, have taken over a business that has two shops, in Bushey Heath and Oxhey Village, and five negotiators.
Tommy said: “It’s not a huge set up, it’s been established for about 25 years, so it’s well grounded and the name’s quite well known within the area so a lot of the groundwork has been done for us. This is a continuation of the way things are and there are opportunities to expand and grow if we can.”
The brothers, who both live in Berkhamsted, intend to be as hands-on as their football careers allow, but they are ambitious.
Asked where he’d like to see the business in five or ten years, Tommy replied: “It’s hard to say but ideally we’d like a few more shops and to grow out. That’s something we’ve got to aim for.
“We’ve got a team behind us that are really driven and have already thrown loads of ideas at us so it’s just trying to do things at the right time and in stages.
“We’re hoping there will be opportunities but it’s a massive learning curve so for the first 12 months, maybe 24, it’s picking things up as we go along. We’d like to think we’re quite fast learners so we’ll find out in the next year or two but you’ve got to hit the ground running, so to speak.”
The Smiths, who will be holding an open office at their Bushey Heath High Road shop on Saturday, June 14, also see their new venture as an opportunity to forge links of another kind with the wider community.
“It’s quite nice to be part of the Watford community but have a different role in it,” Tommy said. “It would be nice to meet people, fans on a different level. You see them from a pitch side but in this way you get a bit more involved and I think we’re both really looking forward to that side of things.”