In a new series we will profile the Arsenal Ladies players, from the past, present and those who will make the future of the team.
We cannot start with a better player than Kelly Smith MBE who announced her retirement from football this week.
First Name: Kelly Jayne
Arsenal playing career: 1996-97, 2005-09, 2012-16
Honours: England – 117 caps, 46 goals. Arsenal – 4 League titles, 1 UEFA Cup, 5 FA Cups (scoring six goals in finals), 1 Premier League Cup, 2 Community Shields, 1 quadruple season with 30 goals in 34 games that campaign. MBE from the Queen.
Kelly Smith is simply the best English women’s player of all time and surely in the all time top 5 of women’s football players across the history of the global game. It is a shame that England never managed to match her quality and won nothing with her leading the team on the pitch.
She was the equivalent of Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires morphed into one one single player.
She was the ultimate number 10 player, something that is rarely found in the English game. She had the same technical ability as Zizou, the same percussion quality to go past opponents like Le Bob and the same pace and calmness to finish in front of the goal as Titi.
A genius of the game, she could see and do things that other players could only dream of doing like scoring from 50 yards as she did at the 2009 Euros and back in the FA WPL. She could read the game like no one else and quarterback attacks from midfield or alternatively play up front on her own and do damage to the defences.
She was the complete attacking player.
Smith was also a game changer and her ability to turn a game that was going the wrong way was there for all to see in the latter stages of her career. Time and time again, Pedro Losa would put her on to unlock a game or to save the day.
A world class talent, she was shortlisted four times for the FIFA player of the year award and won the FA player of the year award twice. If you add the 13 honours that the won with the Arsenal Ladies, those trophies show how big she has been for the club throughout all those years.
A fiery character, she was never afraid to put her foot in, get stuck in or get involved in heated situations. This cost her the chance to play in the UEFA Women’s Cup final back in 2006/07 as she was sent off in the semi-final first leg away to Brondby and gave the finger to the home fans. She was suspended for three games.
Her battle with alcoholism is well documented in her superb autobiography and there is a lot of respect for her openess in her battle with addiction.
Arsenal Ladies will play a friendly against Kelly’s all star XI on 19 February at Borehawood.
Hopefully, it will be close to a sell out as many fans will want to say a last goodbye to Kelly on the pitch, before the she takes her new role in the coaching staff.