Wednesday 11 January 2017, 13:19

Smith calls time on 23-year long career

After a career spanning 23 years in the women’s game, Arsenal Ladies forward and England’s all-time top scorer Kelly Smith has hung up her boots.

Smith, who claimed 117 caps for country and became only the third person to reach a century, will continue with the Gunners as a coach. "My deepest thanks to everyone at Arsenal Football Club for making it possible for me to pursue my childhood dream: representing the club I grew up supporting," she said on announcing her retirement.

"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," she added, the latest of which being the FA Women's Cup in 2016. "I'm also grateful for the honour of playing with and against so many outstanding players worldwide."

One of the standout talents during two decades with the Three Lionesses, the No10 represented her country at the 2007 and 2011 editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, helping them to two quarter-final finishes. The 38-year-old was voted third in the 2009 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award – having been named in the top five for the preceding three years – while also featured at the women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012, representing Great Britain.

Named by The Best FIFA Women’s Player winner Carli Lloyd as the most impressive team-mate she has played alongside, Smith netted 46 goals for England, having made her debut three days after her 17th birthday, before hitting the target for the first time 18 days later against Croatia. She also featured in four editions of the UEFA Women’s EURO, including England’s run to the 2009 final – scoring three on the way to their runners-up finish – before retiring from international football in 2015.

After spells at clubs in USA, she ends her professional career having enjoyed a third stint at Arsenal – with whom she first signed for in 1996 – with the pinnacle of her time in North London coming when the Gunners lifted the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2007.