YORK City skipper Chris Smith reckons Premier League players would benefit from spending a day on a building site.

Smith, who was forced to pursue a plastering career after being released by the Bootham Crescent club in 2004, combined playing part-time football for Stafford Rangers, Worcester City and Tamworth with his day job prior to returning to the pro game with Mansfield earlier this year.

The former Reading centre-back has since re-signed for the Minstermen and, nine years on from the beginning of his first spell with the club, feels more privileged to be following his desired profession.

With Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney currently sunning himself in Dubai after bullying the Old Trafford club into handing him a lucrative five-year contract, Smith’s comments serve as a reality check for some of the game’s leading lights.

The 29-year-old defender said: “When I left York, I went from being a professional footballer to training with Stafford two nights a week and taking on an eight ’til six job as a plasterer in the cold of winter.

“But it helped me, if I am to be totally honest, because it made me appreciate what I had before and wanted to get back.

“Maybe a few Premiership players would appreciate what they have got more if they were put in that situation, because there is no job like being a professional footballer.”

Smith’s last game for City came at Doncaster Rovers in the fixture that sealed the club’s relegation from the Football League.

As a consequence he became a wage bill casualty, leading to problems off the pitch having taken on a mortgage in the city shortly before his release.

“I didn’t want to leave the club back then,” Smith recalled.

“I was forced to really – well, I was asked to take a 50 per cent cut or get released, so things didn’t quite work out.

“I struggled to come to terms with what had gone on because I had been a pro for three years.”

Added Smith: “There were outside issues that were related to the contract I was on that screwed me up a bit.

“It took a couple of years to get back where I wanted to be in football after that.”

Having played under new City boss Gary Mills for two years at Tamworth, Smith moved on to Mansfield in the summer and was an ever present for the Field Mill pace setters during the club’s first 15 games.

He recently found himself unexpectedly surplus to requirements, however, with Mills quick to capitalise and secure his services on a six-month loan deal.

About his departure from Mansfield, Smith declared: “It all happened a bit quickly. The manager said he was bringing in more centre-halves and told me I wouldn’t be playing and could move on.

“I had even captained the side this season and we had been doing well, so it came out of the blue, but every cloud has a silver lining.

“I don’t want to sit in the stands because I love my football and when Gary Mills showed an interest I wanted to come here.

“It was all a bit unstable off the pitch when I left before, but that seems sorted now.”