Ahead of her celebration game on Sunday, Kelly Smith has come out to the world in a wide-ranging interview with Oliver Holt in the Daily Mail, a massive move from someone who values her privacy so fiercely.
One of the greatest women to ever play the game, and the greatest to wear an England shirt, Smith married her partner, DeAnna, in front of close friends last summer. They have been trying to start a family for a few years, and recently Smith was delighted to announce that they are pregnant.
“I’m not out-out, like someone like Casey Stoney. But I have not hidden the fact,” Smith told Holt. “I just haven’t talked about it, I guess. It’s quite private to me and it’s my business and I haven’t felt the need to say anything in interviews. People can make their own assumptions about my lifestyle.
“DeAnna is always at my games supporting me and has been for a good few years. People know but it’s just not common knowledge. I’m not an advocate for gay rights or anything like that. It’s not that I don’t want to be. It’s just that I am quite a reserved, personal character.
“I feel comfortable in my own skin at last now. I am very happy. It has taken me 38 years to feel that I can even speak about this in an interview. I have always brushed it aside or felt it’s not important enough to report on.
“Perhaps society has become a little more accepting in the last few years. I would rather have a kid that has two parents rather than just be a single parent. Who cares if it’s two males or two females?
“If the child is loved and raised in the right way and has a good support network, then so be it. That’s more my mentality. If you are in a good secure environment, then that’s a fantastic environment for the child.
“We find out in a few weeks what sex it is going to be. My parents would love a girl, my mum especially. It is really exciting. It is a new chapter in my life. For so long, I have played football and travelled the world and been Kelly Smith the footballer but now I am going to be Kelly Smith the mum. It’s a whole new chapter in my life. I am really excited to see my belly growing and my body changing.
“We decided I’d give birth to the baby because I’m younger. Secretly… I didn’t want kids growing up because football was my main focus. But when you get to a certain age, there are more important things like having a child and raising it. Around 35 or 36, I thought, “When is a good time to do this?” Then an injury happened and I was out of the game for a bit and we tried and it didn’t work.
“Then I stopped playing football and decided to retire and all the stress fell away and a few months after, we were pregnant.”
Smith has always stood as a role model for women and girls, and her brave decision to speak so frankly about her personal life only emphasises that.
She’s no doubt feeling nervous this morning, wondering how it will all be received. It’s a terrible feeling as you wait to see how people will react to something that is intensely private and personal. I know, I came out as transgender in the Mirror as I discussed the difference in abuse aimed at men and women writing about football online. And I’m a nobody, not household name like Kelly.
But Kelly, hopefully, will let out a huge sigh of relief when she reads Holt’s article and the reaction it is likely to generate.
All Smith should expect to see this morning is more pride in her from those who already admire her, and most likely a number of new fans too.
Smith’s celebration game, which will see a Kelly Smith All Star XI, managed by Smith, take on the current Arsenal squad, kicks off at Boreham Wood at 2pm today (Sunday). Our ladies expert will at the match, and will have a full report later.