ARGYLE might have failed to turn on the style in last season’s Sky Bet League Two play-off final...
...but their form throughout the campaign impressed one of the men ultimately responsible for denying them promotion.
For Connor Smith, whose midfield performance for Wimbledon at Wembley helped stultify the Pilgrims, Argyle’s displays in 2015-16 made it an easy decision to sign for Derek Adam’s radically rehauled squad.
“They like to get the ball down, which I like to do,” he said. “It was really a no-brainer: the style of football; how well they played last year; how well they did in the league. Once I knew the interest was there, it didn’t take too long to know what was going to happen.
“I remember playing against Plymouth when I was Stevenage in September and I thought, then, that they’d go up automatically. They are one of the best teams I have played, footballing-wise. Out of the teams in the play-offs, I didn’t want to play Plymouth because it’s such a good footballing team.”
Judging from social media, the 23-year-old Irishman has been forgiven for his part in the Pilgrims’ Wembley heartache. He certainly wants to move on, too.
“It was a good game on the day,” he said. “Obviously, I was pleased to be part of the winning team but I’m forgetting that now and hopefully do the same thing this year with Plymouth.”
If moving to a side that you heaped misery upon is mildly weird, then Connor’s entry into football was also unorthodox. He came to prominence in the Sky TV 2010 reality show Football’s Next Star and, although he finished runner-up in the competition to win a year’s contract with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, it set him on the way to eventually playing under the management of another world star.
“I was playing with my local team in Ireland and I had a few English clubs who said they would be interested in bringing me over,” he said. “I saw an advert on the TV for this show and me and my pal applied for it, not really expecting much to happen. I just kept progressing through the stages and ended up coming second. From that, I got a trial at Watford.
“I went on loan at Wealdstone as a second-year scholar and enjoyed that – I was there with Britt Assombalonga – and went back to Watford. [Gianfranco] Zola came in and I did really well in pre-season, got a new contract there and made my debut in his first game against Crystal Palace.
“I was doing really well and got an injury and then was in and out of the team, travelling with the squad but not playing, which is what I wanted.
“I decided, last January that, although loans are good, I would prefer to move to a club and start properly at a club. I did that at Wimbledon for six months and now here I am.”