HONEST Adam Smith admits there are elements of being a professional footballer he finds “grinding” mentally, after spending so long in the game.

Smith, who came through the Tottenham Hotspur academy, is rapidly approaching the 10-year anniversary of when he joined Cherries on a permanent deal.

The 32-year-old recently played his 350th game for the club and is one of the most senior members of an increasingly young Cherries squad.

He has also triggered a clause in his contract which will keep him at Vitality Stadium until the summer of 2025.

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In an interview with afcbTV last month, celebrating his milestone appearance and reflecting on his time at Cherries, Smith admitted “sometimes I don’t enjoy it as much” as he used to.

Explaining those comments further when speaking to the media this week, the two-time promotion winner said: “It’s just a bit of everything.

“The stress of being in a relegation battle every season. I think this is my eighth season in the Premier League and every season we have been in a relegation battle – it is stressful.

“Even when we were in the Championship, we are expected to get promoted, so it is always very stressful.

“It is obviously a privilege to be in the Premier League and fighting to get promoted.

“And then just when you get older, do you still enjoy your job after doing it for so long?

“It isn’t just the pressure, but the abuse. It is grinding. Maybe I’m being too honest, but the abuse players get… no other industry gets it.

“You wouldn’t walk down the street and abuse a trader or something but if you are a footballer you get abused left, right and centre.

“Twitter, Instagram, at the stadium. I know I’m lucky to be a footballer but I just don’t think it is acceptable.

“I still enjoy it, but there are some moments where I don’t enjoy it.”

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He continued: “It is grinding, it grinds you down.

“I try to stay off social media but for the younger lads it must be tough, the abuse they get. Even when you are out and about sometimes you get abused and we can’t be seen to react, which is even worse.

“I love football and enjoy it but there are some moments I wish I could have a little bit of a time out. You only get that in the summer but then you’re back to it.

“We get paid very good money so I’m not complaining.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to play. I do try to enjoy it and I enjoy the wins, definitely, and going home and spending time with the family.

“I love coming into training each day, seeing the lads and training hard.

“When we have got that winning feeling in front of the fans and the stadium is rocking, I love it. The adrenaline is what you want.

“But just that other side of it sometimes does grind you down and I’m sure it does with loads of other players, they just don’t want to say it maybe, I don’t know.

“I just try and ignore it. I’m sure some lads want to react, I definitely do sometimes. It doesn’t happen all the time, just now and again. It is the society we live in at the moment.”

Asked if he had ever thought of quitting football because of abuse, Smith said: “No, probably not. Some days you think, why do I do it? But I’m sure you have that with every job, thinking ‘I don’t know if I want to do this’.

“Obviously we get paid great money, but money isn’t everything. It is your happiness. Everyone has those days, but I love football too much.”

Asked if he offers advice to some of the younger players within the squad, who spend more time on social media, the experienced full-back added: “I don’t really speak about it so I don’t know if it does worry them.

“I’m sure after they’ve had a bad game or made a mistake they go online and see the abuse and it must bother them. They are human.

“If any of the lads want to come to me and speak about it I will give them advice, but you never really know what goes on behind closed doors.”

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Alongside partner Sofia, Smith has two young children in son Sainte and daughter River.

“I love being a dad,” said Smith.

“Football doesn’t really mean anything, when you have family and kids.

“Football is some people’s lives, they love it and that’s what they live for. But since I’ve had kids it is definitely not my number one priority.

“That is the good thing about having kids. You go home to them and can forget about football and everything that is involved with it. It is good to switch off.”

With Max Aarons out injured, Smith is expected to keep his place in the coming weeks, starting with the visit of Aston Villa to Vitality Stadium today (2pm).

Discussing his longevity at Cherries, Smith said: “Maybe it is something I will look back on when I’ve retired, but now 350 doesn’t really mean anything to me.

“I’m sure when I’ve retired it’ll be something I’m proud of.

“Time flies. It feels like yesterday (the first Championship promotion).

“I’m coming up to 10 years here in January. There have been some great memories over those 10 years and hopefully there are a couple more left.

“It has been up and down with managers, but that is part of football.

“The promotions have been great. The last one was more of relief, if I’m honest.

“Last season staying up could be up there with the best one I think. Everyone wrote us off. It was a great achievement, hopefully we can kick on this season.”

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Andoni Iraola is the seventh different manager Smith has played under during his time at Cherries, including his loan spell back in the 2010-11 campaign.

The former England under-21 international was a big part of the squad under Eddie Howe, Lee Bradbury, Jason Tindall, Jonathan Woodgate, Scott Parker and Gary O’Neil.

Discussing life under Iraola, Smith said: “He is a good manager. We didn’t start off great but it was tough fixtures and have picked up recently.

“It has taken time for the lads to adapt to how he wants to play, but I feel in the last few games the team has definitely been more positive in the way we’ve played.

“You can see the ideas that he has given us coming out in play and hopefully we can kick on and look up the table.”