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Departure of Once in a Lifetime Striker – Kelly Smith

1st February 2017. By Danni Biggs.
Arsenal and England legend, Kelly Smith confirms her retirement from football at the age of 38. With 117 games, 48 goals for her national team Smith said with no regrets “I’ve travelled the world and, at the age of 38, the body is telling me it needs to stop.”

Kelly, 38, was awarded an MBE for her services in football in 2008, also winning numerous accolades and individual honours throughout her career including the FA Women’s Players’ Player of the year in 2006 and 2007. “Kelly Smith is the best women’s player England has ever produced, and one of the foremost players in the history of the women’s game,” said Johnathan Pearce on BBC Match of the Day.

Ending her Career on a High

‘The game is in a magnificent place at the moment and it’s good to step away at the right time.’ Smith said.

At the young age of 17, Kelly made her debut for England where she was also awarded Player of the Match from her position on the left wing; just the start of Smith’s successful international footballing career.  After being unable to accept the call-up to England’s 1995 World Cup that summer due to her sitting GCSE’s Kelly made a mark on her second cap, scoring a penalty for England in stoppage-time.

Departure of Once in a Lifetime Striker – Kelly Smith Kisses BootWhen healthy, Smith was generally considered as one of the top female football players in the world and acknowledged by many as the finest female footballer that England has ever produced. In September 2010 Kelly Smith reportedly became England’s all-time record goal scorer, where she scored her 41st goal against Switzerland, surpassing the record of 40 goals held by Karen Walker.

After a 20-year career with the Lionesses and after competing at the London 2012 Olympics, Smith retired from international football in 2015. Her international career consisted of participating in four European Championships, the 2007 and 2011 World Cups as well as being part of Olympic Team GB squad and holding an all-time record as the highest goal scorer for the England women’s team.

Smith confirmed her retirement from football in January 2017. Arsenal Ladies striker Kelly was a key component of the dominant Gunners side with whom she won 5 FA Cups. So, we could say that the great Kelly Smith has had one of the most successful footballing careers in the history of women’s football and has definitely ended her love of playing on a high.

A Future England Manager in the Making?

Alongside Kelly’s playing career she has also been training as a coach and is currently undertaking the UEFA B license course. So, is this the next step for England superstar Kelly Smith?

Departure of Once in a Lifetime Striker – Kelly Smith Coaching“I want to see where my coaching career goes,” Smith said “I’d love to see how far I can develop as a coach. There are goals to manage Arsenal, the club I love, and even England – and who knows?” Surely for followers of the Lionesses and of course record-breaking Smith, this is what we all wanted to hear.

In 2013, Smith took up a player-coach role at Arsenal and for the past two full years Kelly has been assistant manager to Pedro Martinez at the Gunners. Admitting that she is at the bottom of the ladder and still a long way to go, she is just really looking forward to how she develops.

“I am so proud to have been part of the Arsenal family for so many years, and prouder still to have contributed to its many successes and much silverware. I’m excited to confirm my next step, which will see me take up a full-time coaching role within the club. “A fantastic opportunity to pay back the club I love, and to nurture the next generation of female football talent.” Kelly said after confirming her retirement from her beloved Arsenal.

Lionesses Euros 2017

The Lionesses have qualified for the European championships in Holland unbeaten, of course meaning the finished top of their group. With a well-satisfied third place at the 2015 World Cup, England’s goalkeeper Karen Bardsley thinks that England can go all the way.  Bardsley who kept four clean-sheets in the five Euro qualifiers she started says that England should use their bronze medal from Canada as a springboard for more success this summer.

Departure of Once in a Lifetime Striker – Kelly Smith Qualifiers“And as great as it felt to win a bronze medal, ultimately we could have had more or less. We could have been in a final and come out with a gold or silver, which I fully believe we were capable of achieving.” she told the PFA’s ‘4 The Player’ magazine.

England women have been drawn in Group D at Euro 2017, where they will open their campaign against Scotland on 19th July. With feeling confident from their unbeaten run in the qualifiers, the Lionesses look forward for their next major tournament where they hope to improve and make an appearance in the final.