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Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Fleet re-sign heart op man Smith

Ebbsfleet United's ground

Ebbsfleet United have re-signed their former player Ross Smith almost a year after he was forced to retire.

Smith had just signed for MLS side Colorado Rapids when he was diagnosed with a bicuspid valve in his heart and told it was not safe to play.

He has since had heart surgery and was this week told by doctors that it is safe for him to resume his career.

He told BBC Radio Kent: "In January I didn't think this was an option. It's absolutely fantastic."

The 29-year-old, who has spent most of his life living in Canada, even though he has Scottish parents, had just made the dream move to the USA when he received the devastating news.

"I played under Steve Guppy for Rochester in New York and when he went to Colorado I went with him.

"I flew out there two weeks earlier to get used to the altitude and I had some chest pains.

"I'd done a few tests and I got a call saying not to run, not to do anything as there was a problem."

I wasn't looking for a witch doctor to clear me to play. I needed 100 percent clearance and that's what I got

Ebbsfleet midfielder Ross Smith

But, rather than accept the order to retire, Smith was determined to prove the doctors wrong and play football again.

"I don't know how serious it was," added Smith. "Maybe I dodged the bullet, but after the doctors figured it out, I knew after surgery I would be ok.

"It was then just a case of getting this over with and let's get on with my life.

"I wasn't looking for a witch doctor to clear me to play.

"I had to go to a recognised specialist, Dr Sharma at Lewisham Hospital.

"I wouldn't have accepted 50 percent from a doctor, I needed 100 percent clearance and that's what I got."

Smith re-joins Ebbsfleet at a time when the struggling club are being kept off the bottom of the Blue Square Premier only by Chester City's pre-season points deduction.

But he is now expected to be in the squad for Saturday's away game at York.

"It'll be mixed emotions on Saturday," he said. "It will be tough without my family as they went through it all with me, but maybe it's best with them not here worrying about me.

"It will be a fantastic feeling to be back among it and will be a moment I will cherish."

Manager Liam Daish holds up Smith as a great example to the rest of his young squad.

"He's one of those players who will set the standard of the way he plays the game and how he works," Daish told BBC Radio Kent. "He's a great character to have around.

"Some younger players will look at him and see that is the way to play and train."

Website commentary of York City v Ebbsfleet United on bbc.co.uk/kent



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