ALAN SMITH felt the ultimate football highs and lows at Anfield.
The ex-England striker was just 18 when he scored on his Leeds debut — with his first touch — against Liverpool in front of the Kop to inspire a 3-1 Premier League win in November 1998.
Then Smith all but ended his career on the same ground, when he suffered a sickening double leg break and ankle dislocation while playing for Manchester United eight years later.
Smith reflected as his boyhood club make their long-awaited return to the top flight after 16 years away with a trip to face Jurgen Klopp’s champions on Saturday.
He said: “For me Anfield has so many different emotions — the joy then the disappointment.
“If I hadn’t scored at Anfield on that day, no one knows what would have come next.
“And if I hadn’t broken my leg there, then who knows what would have happened.
“You have to take every high and low on the chin.”
Smith, 39, was part of the Leeds team that was relegated in 2004 — as TV pictures captured the academy product crying on the pitch.
But he went from hero to villain among the Elland Road faithful after he joined bitter rivals United in a £7million switch across the Pennines.
The Yorkshireman told the Official Utd podcast: “For me, it wasn’t even a rivalry anymore.
“If you aren’t in the same league, I don’t see how it can be.
“I would have been doing myself a disservice if I took the easy option and didn’t sign for — arguably at that time — the biggest club in the world.”
Smith made 93 appearances and scored 12 goals for United but his stay only lasted three seasons, following an injury which Sir Alex Ferguson called one of the worst he has ever seen.
And Smith added: “My biggest concern was that I was going to lose my foot.
“I never got back to the levels I was at previously.”