England women’s record goalscorer Kelly Smith announced her retirement from football yesterday.
Dubbed England women’s first football superstar, the striker scored 46 goals in 117 caps for England and said she felt that it was the right time to retire now as she begins her coaching career with Arsenal.
She said: “My deepest thanks to everyone at Arsenal for making it possible for me to pursue my childhood dream — representing the club I grew up supporting.
“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.”
Smith ranks fourth on England’s all-time goalscorers list, bettered only by Gary Lineker, Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney and is already being touted as a potential England manager, something she has already given thought to.
“I want to see where my coaching career goes,” she 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?
“But I’m at the bottom of the ladder at the moment so I’m just really looking forward to seeing how I develop.” C
urrent England boss Mark Sampson praised the former Arsenal striker, saying: “She will be remembered as one of the greatest players to have played the game.
“The many thousands of young people who took up the game after being inspired by Kelly will never forget the inspiration and joy she brought just from watching her play.
“It will absolutely be a loss to the game on the field. I hope she will now go on to enjoy a wonderful career off the field.”
Smith’s career was littered with individual awards and accolades, including being named the FA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007 as well as third in Fifa’s Women’s World Player of the Year in 2009.
While playing for Arsenal she won the 2006-7 Uefa Cup — the only British team to have won what is now the Champions League — five FA Cups and four league titles.
The 38-year-old also played in two World Cups, four European Championships and the London 2012 Olympics for Great Britain.
“I don’t have any regrets,” said Smith. “I’ve loved every minute of it. Every time I put that England shirt on, I felt a lot of emotion playing for my country.
“The game is in a magnificent place at the moment and it’s good to step away at the right time.”