Jonté Smith is dreaming of becoming the fourth Bermudian player to appear in a Wembley Stadium final writes Jon Palmer a Football Writer for Gloucestershire Live.
Cheltenham Town will first have to overcome Northampton Town over a two-legged Play-off Semi-Final, but striker Smith is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Nahki Wells (Bradford City), Kyle Lightbourne (Stoke City) and Shaun Goater (Rotherham United and Manchester City).
Of the three, Wells is so far the only Bermudian to score at the world-famous venue, in Bradford's 3-0 League Two play-off final triumph over Northampton in 2013.
Smith’s contract with the Robins was due to expire on June 3rd, but he has agreed to extend the deal for another month, ensuring he will be available for Cheltenham’s bid to reach League One.
“I’m happy to be a part of the team for the play-offs,” Smith said.
“It’s been a strange season, but I think personally it’s been a good one as eventful as it’s been.
“I’ve scored a few goals and made an assist in around 500 or so minutes, scoring my first Football League goal.
“It’s now an opportunity to become the fourth Bermudian to play in a Wembley final as well as become the second to score at one, so it means a lot and not just for me.”
Smith joined Cheltenham last September after appearing on trial during pre-season.
He scored a hat-trick against West Ham United Under-21s in the Leasing.com Trophy and headed in his first League goal in the 3-0 victory at Mansfield Town on December 7.
At the start of lockdown, Smith filled some of his spare time by teaching himself how to play the piano.
He has since started learning Spanish to occupy his mind along with sticking to the routines sent by the club’s fitness coach Josh Harris.
“I’ve been trying a few things to keep my brain stimulated, learning Spanish on an app and different things like that,” he said.
“Things to occupy the time and keep my mental sharpness high.
“I’ve been given a guide by the club for runs, rest days and different types of physical activity to maintain what we’ve worked so hard to get in terms of physical fitness throughout the season.
“It’s very detailed and specific which will help us in the play-offs.”
Smith has also kept in regular touch with his friends and family in Bermuda.
“With the way technology is these days it’s a lot easier to stay in contact, with video calling and messaging, to make sure everyone’s doing well and the family are safe and sound pretty much every day,” he said.
Smith returned from playing in an international friendly against Jamaica on March 11th, just before lockdown measures were introduced.
“Sadly I missed Cheltenham races with the team as I needed minutes to keep increasing my fitness,” he said.
“I travelled from Heathrow via Miami to Jamaica, started the game and got valuable minutes.
“I was hungry for football after being out with a illness. I had a taste of it making appearances against Colchester and Port Vale before I left so I was itching to get back to England.
“That’s when the pandemic hit and put a halt to everything.”
Like the rest of his team mates, Smith drove into the Whaddon Road car park on Friday to be tested for coronavirus, ahead of Monday’s return to training at Seasons.
“It was pretty much a drive by test, driving to a specific spot, putting the window down and letting club doctor Sophie Risebero, Gavin Crowe and James Redman do what they need to, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” he said.
“I can’t wait to be back training on Monday. We have a short space of time to prepare for important games so everyone’s going to be on it and pushing each other like we have been all season.