Dean Smith is used to delivering many an inspiring word as manager of Walsall, but his most significant remains to old friend Errol McKellar, prior to his fight against prostate cancer.
The words of a young football coach by the name of Dean Smith certainly struck a chord with an East London mechanic when the duo first met at Leyton Orient the early 2000's.
Errol McKellar, who juggles his work in a Hackney garage with coaching at the East End club, remains good friends with the current Walsall manager to this day. And he admitted that Smith's phrase inspired him as he took on, and won, a battle with prostate cancer.
McKellar will thus be as proud as anyone when his good mate leads out the Saddlers on Sunday 22 March in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final at Wembley, and he will be watching from the stands.
“It’s no surprise that’s he’s taken Walsall to Wembley,” smiled Errol, who is an ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK. “Having had the privilege of working alongside Dean, he taught me many things.
“He showed me that anything you do in coaching, you always try to get your point across, however big or however small it is, in the best possible way.
“He also told me to never ever look at a situation and think that it’s not achievable. He always gave me the encouragement to go on and do the things that I've done in football - and in life.”
McKellar’s diagnosis with prostate cancer arrived by chance in 2010. Prompted to visit his doctor by his wife to aid his persistent snoring, he picked up a leaflet about the disease in the waiting room and discovered he was at higher than average risk of getting prostate cancer.
Today I’m so proud for Walsall, proud for the team and, most importantly, I’m going to be so proud for Dean Smith and his family
Almost five years on, the chirpy McKellar has dedicated himself to hammering home the message about a disease that affects one in eight men in the UK, and even more shockingly, one in four black men.
He offers a discount off MOTs in his garage when customers pledge to discuss their prostate cancer risk with their doctor. He remains in touch with many young footballers he’s worked with, offers advice to underprivileged youngsters and supports us in a variety of ways including signing Thierry Henry and Jamie Redknapp up to Men United.
Smith’s current residence is in the West Midlands, so conversations between the two are less regular.
But the duo will always remain intertwined, with McKellar citing Smith for his positive philosophy. He added: “I try to have a good manner and a good relationship with people, and particularly during my illness, that really came to fruit. Those are the strengths that helped me to get through the battles that I had to get through. Without a doubt Dean was part of that character building.
“I had the privilege of carrying the Olympic torch in 2012. When I walked into the reception that was held for me, the first person that greeted me was Dean Smith, followed by his son Jamie and the family that’s how close and how important they are to me.
“Today I’m so proud for Walsall, proud for the team and, most importantly, I’m going to be so proud for Dean Smith and his family because it represents the achievement of what he’s done in the game. To share that moment with him is an honour for me.”Join Men United