Born: March 29, 1951
Robert Smith was born March 29, 1951 in Trenton. He grew up in Trenton and Hamilton Township, distinguishing himself in a number of sports, including soccer. He attended Steinert High in Hamilton, where he was a schoolmate of future Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Bobby was a dominant midfielder for the Spartans. Fast and physical, he was know for his hard fouls.
Bobby continued his soccer career at nearby Rider College, where he distinguished himself as one of the nation’s top two-way players. He played suffocating defense while setting school records with 18 goals in a season and 46 in his four-year career. He was the MAC Player of the Year as a junior and senior.
After graduation in 1973, Bobby was drafted by the newly formed Philadelphia Atoms of the North American Soccer League. He also made his first of 18 international appearances for Team USA. With the Atoms, Bobby teamed with goalie Bob Rigby to give the team an airtight last line of defense, allowing just 14 goals. Bobby earned 2nd Team All-Star honors as he helped the Atoms win the NASL championship.
Between his second and third NASL seasons, Bobby played for the Irish club Dundalk, one of the country’s top pro teams. He returned to the U.S. in 1975 and was a 1st Team All-Star. In 1976, the New York Cosmos signed Pele. Part of the Brazilian star’s deal with the team was to surround him with quality players. New York purchased Bobby and Bob Rigby for $100,000. Bobby earned 2nd Team All-Star honors in 1976 and, in three seasons with the Cosmos, won two more NASL championships.
As the Cosmos loaded up on big-name international stars, Bobby became expendable. He was traded to the San Diego Sockers in 1979, and earned All-Star recognition for the fifth time in seven NASL seasons. In 1980, he returned to Philadelphia with the expansion Fury, and also played for the Philadelphia Fever of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He played one more indoor season—for the Montreal Manic—before retiring in 1981 at the age of 30.
Bobby continued his involvement in soccer as a coach and trainer. He established the Bob Smith Soccer Academy and in 2006 moved his operation to a large indoor facility in Robbinsville. “Smitty” was honored in 2007 with enshrinement in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.