Sadly, Wrexham AFC must confirm that Manny Smith has been forced in to early retirement as a professional footballer having been unable to overcome a serious knee injury, his contract at the club has been cancelled.
After showing initial signs of promise with a brief return to the field last season, the injury would reoccur and worsened over time despite the club and player making the best possible efforts for his comeback to match action.
A very positive Manny spoke to the club media team earlier who passed on their regret about his decision, although he said: “There is no need to be sorry or anything, it’s the start of a whole new chapter for me.
“I would like to thank the fans and everyone at Wrexham AFC for supporting me throughout my time at the club. As with anything, it's had its ups and downs, but luckily for me there's been far more ups than downs.”
Talking about his time on the sidelines he said: “I’ve not had the best 18-months with the injury, I had five operations in a five-month period, but after all of that I know I have made the right decision all round, for the club, my family and for myself.
“My family have always been made to feel welcome by everyone at the club and that alone has made my time enjoyable.”
Talking about the support Wrexham AFC have provided him, he said: “Physiotherapist Phil Davies has gone above and beyond the call of duty for me. He’s not just been ‘the physio’, but he’s also been a friend and I would like to thank him for everything from the bottom of my heart.
“Both Phil and the gaffer (Dean Keates) have supported my decision and have helped make my retirement official with ease.”
Talking about leaving his team-mates behind, he continued: “I hope the fans will continue to believe in the club. I know we are struggling at the moment, but the lads and Dean Keates are doing everything they can to turn this around.”
He candidly ended with: “Hopefully the club will retire the number 4 shirt!”
Manny had two spells with the Dragons, initially signing on 5th August 2014. During this time he would go on to cement his place as a fan's favourite, while making 108 appearances for the club scoring four goals.
During his first season in North Wales, he played every minute during Wrexham’s 61 league and cup matches, often captaining the side, scoring a superb acrobatic flicked goal during the FA Cup second round against Maidstone United, in front of the live BBC television cameras at the Racecourse.
The following season he would cap a century of appearances at the club during a 3-0 cross-border derby victory against rivals Chester at the Racecourse. Wrexham AFC manager at the time Gary Mills would, however, release Manny at the end of the 2015-16 season, opting to retain the services of players he had brought to the club.
Manny migrated north-east to Gateshead but would return just a season later, cancelling his ‘Heed’ contract for personal reasons - his services were promptly taken up by new Dragons manager Dean Keates on 7th July 2017.
He was an integral part of the best defensive record in the club's history, forming an almost telepathic relationship with centre-half partner Shaun Pearson, making 46 appearances, popping up with three goals during his retuning season at the club.
2018-19 would be a disaster for Manny. Having scored away at Eastleigh a few weeks prior, just eight games in to his season, he was injured at Damson Park whilst Wrexham were playing Solihull Moors. In the 26th minute of the match, he would rise above Solihull defender Liam Daly to head away a long-ball, but fell awkwardly causing his injury.
Four months later, after fully recovering from the initial problem, he made a strong 90 minute appearance during a 2-0 win over Eastleigh at the Racecourse. However, an unexpected recurrence sidelined him again for the remainder of the 2018-19 season and despite fighting to overcome it, he was ultimately unable to fully recover.
Everyone at Wrexham AFC would like to wish Manny all the very best for the future. He was always the complete professional during his time at the club, always gave 110% in all aspects of his work and has been a pleasure to have around the Racecourse.