THE DAY Adam Smith signed permanently for Cherries, Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne’s pop hit Rather Be topped the UK singles charts.

As time passes, it is hard to think of many tracks more fitting to sum up the full-back’s time at the club. As the lyrics go: “As long as we’re together, there’s no place I’d rather be.”

In the decade which has followed, Smith and AFC Bournemouth have been the ideal match, the relationship working perfectly for each other.

Today marks 10 years since Smith put pen-to-paper on a contract with Cherries, finally leaving boyhood club Tottenham Hotspur behind him after a string of loan spells, on a deal worth around £250,000.

Bournemouth Echo:

And what a ride it has been since.

Prior to arriving in January 2014, Londoner Smith had taken in seven loan spells, including a fruitful stay at Cherries in the 2010-11 campaign, helping Lee Bradbury’s side reach the League One play-offs.

Other locations during his nomadic early career including Wycombe, Torquay, Derby and Milton Keynes, playing for bosses such as Peter Taylor and Steve McClaren.

Aged 22, Smith, as he said himself, needed a home. Somewhere to really make his name in the game.

And Cherries in the Championship, under Eddie Howe, were a team full of players with a point to prove, desperate for their crack at the big time.

Upon signing in 2014, the same day goals from Lewis Grabban and Tokelo Rantie earned Howe’s men a 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town, Smith said: “It is great to be back. My loan spell here a few years ago was successful and I have worked with Eddie Howe before so it just feels right.

“This is what I need. I have had seven loans and was looking to stay at one club for a while.

“At this stage in my career, I need to have a home.

“Hopefully, I can do that here because I am here for the long term and want to help Bournemouth be successful.”

Even Smith cannot have imagined just how successful things would turn out, recently admitting he thought he would be on the south coast for a few years before moving elsewhere.

Bournemouth Echo:

Someone who spent more than half of Smith’s decade at Cherries as a teammate of his was Andrew Surman.

Like Smith, he initially had a loan spell at the club earlier in his career, before returning to sign permanently. Surman arrived in the summer of 2013, a few months before Smith.

Asked for his first impressions of the defender, Surman told the Daily Echo: “Just a good lad. Someone that slotted straight into the changing room.

“That’s what Eddie Howe looked for - good characters. The real core of the group that we had there, in terms of doing things the right way and leading the team.

“When he first came in he was funny, got on well with everyone, just a really good addition to the team.

“Then obviously with his quality and energy and everything like that, he was brilliant to play with. He was just one of those people that was great to be around in general really.”

Surman, who now works as assistant manager in Cherries’ under-18s, shared a pitch with Smith on 118 occasions, before leaving the club in 2020. The central midfielder only played with four players more throughout his whole career.

“He’s a massive joker,” said Surman of Smith.

“He loves a bit of banter to be fair. His banter was never as good as mine, even though he likes to think so! But he’s a funny lad.”

He added: “It’s a massive achievement for Smudge, 10 years at the club.

“I was there when he joined and played with him. It was a pleasure to play with him.

“He’s a great lad, great for the changing room, a good footballer, has given so much for the club.

“I’m just really pleased for him that he’s been there for 10 years and what he’s actually contributed to the club’s success, which is testament to him.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Initially playing second fiddle to Simon Francis and having to bide his time, Smith played his part in getting Cherries to the promised land. He later went on to heap credit on the role Francis played in developing him as a right-back.

It is in the Premier League where the former England under-21 international really began to nail down his place.

“It was probably the same for a few players that came in,” explained Surman.

“I remember when Dan Gosling came in, another top lad, top player, but because the scene was very much settled in the Championship (promotion) season, we never really had many injuries.

“It was the same team almost every week, because we were winning and doing well. It was difficult for players, probably like Smudge, with Franno playing every week and doing really well.

“When he got his chance, he took it and took the team to another level.

“It's the nature of football, clubs want to have two players for every position. You just have to be patient and ready to take your chance.

“With Smudge, he was. He was always positive. He never really brought the group down.

“He never made it about himself. It was ‘I’ll support the group and take my chance when I get it’, which is another testament to him as a character.”

Bournemouth Echo:

The 37-year-old added: “Working with young players, it’s a lesson for them, to look up to players like that and show you need to get your head down and keep going, because you never know when you’re going to get your opportunity.

“If you’re not ready because you’ve let things get on top of you, be selfish and make it all about you, then when you do get your chance, you just don’t end up taking it, because mentally you’re not in the right state of mind.

“To be fair to him, he was mentally tough, he waited his time, took it and I’ve seen him grow.

“The more games he’s played and obviously he’s captained the team as well, he’s developed his leadership skills and become a real leader.

“I think he is someone that other players look up to, that they respect and I think that’s important to have characters like that.

“When the team is constantly evolving and there’s new players coming in, you need to have good characters around in your core, just to help them come in and be part of the team and keep that continuity.

“If you don’t have good characters in your team, in the core of your changing room, players can’t settle, there becomes cliques. I’ve seen it happen all before. He’s become a real leader.”

Bournemouth Echo:

In 2017, having helped Cherries reach the Premier League and feature regularly in the top flight, Smith was linked with a return to Tottenham.

Instead, he penned a four-year deal to remain on the south coast. Upon signing the contract, he said: “There is nowhere else I want to be at this moment.”

As a host of players and coaches departed following relegation in 2020, Smith remained.

Again in 2021 it looked like he could be heading out the door, his contract expiring before he agreed to stay, after Scott Parker was hired as boss, alongside coaches Matt Wells and Rob Burch, who Smith knew from his time at Tottenham.

Smith went on to seal a second promotion from the Championship that season and is the only player left in the squad from the historic 2014-15 campaign.

Bournemouth Echo:

In a recent interview, the 32-year-old admitted he does not always enjoy football as much as he used to, with family life now taking greater priority and explaining how some of the abuse he has received over the years as a footballer is “grinding”.

Smith is in the top 10 for appearances in the club’s history, recently hitting the milestone of 350 games for Cherries, across his two spells, and has seen his contract extended to the summer of 2025.

There are similarities with Smith’s current boss, Andoni Iraola, the sixth head coach of Cherries in the past decade.

Also a right-back in his playing days, the former Spain international stayed for 14 years at Athletic Club in Bilbao from 2001 to 2015.

Bournemouth Echo:

Asked how big an achievement it is for Smith, who is currently battling back from injury, to have stayed at one club for a decade, Iraola told the Daily Echo: “It is very difficult. You have to do a lot of things very well because normally, people can get kind of tired or bored of seeing the same faces.

“Every summer, every winter, they are demanding new signings and new faces.

“When you spend 10 years, like Adam, in the same club, it is because you have been really successful and every day performing, in the good moments and bad moments. You are reliable, people trust you and you renew another contract.

“It is something not easy to achieve. I think it is going to be even more difficult. It tells you he is a really good player.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Quizzed on if he ever felt during his time in Bilbao he wanted to seek a new challenge, Iraola added: “It is different careers. In my career, I had it very clear that the best place for me, of all the clubs, was where I was.

“I had it very clear I wanted to be successful there and try to achieve whatever and do it there.

“It is different circumstances, but to spend the time he has spent with Bournemouth, it is because he understands the club.

“Not only on the pitch, but the surroundings. He is smart and he also has been really good this season.

“His performances have been really good and I hope he can recover and continue with the same form.”

Iraola has previously spoken about how much the full-back role has evolved since he hung up his boots in 2016.

Bournemouth Echo:

Asked how impressive it is for Smith to have kept up with the times and retained his level as a full-back in the Premier League for so long, Iraola said: “For sure. Also the full-backs in the Premier League, every week they face strong opponents. Very young, fast, different skills.

“You have to adapt to the best level of the opponents. Also offensively you have to add more things, because we are asking more and more of the full-backs.

“Nowadays, they are the first ones to help us in the build-up. We ask them to arrive, to put good crosses, to attack inside now. I think he is able to do these things.”

Smith has seen off challenges from the likes of Jack Stacey and Ethan Laird for the right-back berth in his time at the club, always rising to the battle to keep his place.

At some point, the baton will need passing. Perhaps the perfect candidate to take on the mantle will be Smith’s current competition Max Aarons.

Arriving from Norwich City over the summer, Aarons instantly impressed and has forged a strong relationship with Smith, seemingly not dissimilar to how Francis helped Smith a decade ago.

Discussing Aarons earlier this season, Smith told the Daily Echo: “He is a great lad. He has huge potential to be a really good right-back, that he is now.

“We work well together on and off the pitch. I like to help him and sometimes he helps me. It is competition, it’s what everyone has in the team and that is what you want in football.”

Bournemouth Echo: Max Aarons has his eyes on the England senior side

Asked how he sees Smith, Aarons responded: “Smudge is a great guy, a great character.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Adam. I think whoever is playing, we’re always looking to support each other, on the pitch and off the pitch as well. We’re really close.

“He’s obviously done amazing things here for the club and that competition is always really good.

“In any position at any club that is aspiring to do really well, you need players to push each other in each position, for sure.

“Smudge is a great character to have here and it is really good competition to have in such a good player as Smudge as well.”

Discussing Smith’s longevity to perform as he has at the same club for 10 years, Aarons added: “I’d played against Adam a few times as well when I was at Norwich. I could see then the ability he has.

“He’s played a lot of games and got a lot of experience.

“To have someone like that around and in the team is massive for us as a group and for me as well.

“We’re always looking to pushing each other. At any kind of top club, you need to have real good competition in all areas.

“I feel like I’ve always played my best football when I’ve been pushed and tested in my position, so it’s really good.

“Smudge is a great guy.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Smith still has a few years left in him yet. But what could come next?

He only has to look around the club to see some potential paths, trodden by his ex-teammates. Tommy Elphick is assistant manager of the first team, Francis is assistant technical director in the boardroom, while Junior Stanislas is coaching in Cherries’ academy.

Speaking in 2021, Smith admitted he had not seen himself going into coaching, until his best mate Ryan Mason took that route and ended up as head coach of his boyhood club Spurs.

Asked if he could see Smith as the type of character to follow a similar path to himself into coaching when the time is right, Surman said: “I think it’s one of those roles that only he will know, because I think everyone is different.

“Coaching is one of those things that you really need to want to do, because if you don’t really want to do it, then I don’t think you can, because you’ve got to be fully committed.

“That’s up to Smudge, he’s the only one that will know that. I don’t know what he’s got set up or what he sees his future being.

“I would assume he’s probably at the moment enjoying still playing and making the most of that. I don’t know what his plans would be after that.”

Where Smith is in another 10 years is hard to know.

For now, there is no place Cherries fans would rather Smith be than back on the pitch, continuing to cement his AFC Bournemouth legacy.

(Pics: Richard Crease, Sam Sheldon, Denis Murphy, James Williamson and AFC Bournemouth)