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Emotions high for Kelly Smith at Arsenal farewell

Published: Monday 20 February 2017, 15.56CET
Kelly Smith admitted to high emotions after ending her stellar career with a celebration match at Arsenal while Heather O'Reilly, Pedro Martínez Losa, and Hope Powell pay tribute.
by Paul Saffer
from Meadow Park
Emotions high for Kelly Smith at Arsenal farewell
Kelly Smith is applauded after her celebration game at Arsenal ©Arsenal FC

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Published: Monday 20 February 2017, 15.56CET

Emotions high for Kelly Smith at Arsenal farewell

Kelly Smith admitted to high emotions after ending her stellar career with a celebration match at Arsenal while Heather O'Reilly, Pedro Martínez Losa, and Hope Powell pay tribute.

Kelly Smith's stellar career officially ended on Sunday with a celebration game at Arsenal's Borehamwood home.

Smith has retired aged 38 as England's record goalscorer on 46 and having won all there is to win in three spells at Arsenal sandwiching two stints in the United States. Due to have a baby, Smith is also now coaching Arsenal's Under-20s.

For the celebration game itself, Smith managed an All-Star XI containing current players like Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, plus old colleagues including her one-time England team-mate and national coach for 15 years, Hope Powell. They were beaten 4-2 by Arsenal, though Smith did convert a penalty dubiously awarded by FIFA World Cup final referee Howard Webb.

Click on the audio player above to hear from new Arsenal winger and Smith's former New Jersey Wildcats colleague Heather O'Reilly, Gunners manager Pedro Martínez Losa, and Hope Powell.

Kelly Smith on her celebration game ...
"I've had a fantastic day, one of the best in terms of memories. I was made to feel very special, I feel very honoured that so many friends and colleagues have been part of this special day that Arsenal put on. It was nearly a record crowd, we wanted to cap it under 3,000 to keep it intimate. I am really delighted to see some of the faces that have supported me over the years.

"I got the penalty! It was a little bit staged ... But I've given my whole life to football, and to Arsenal. This club has always been in my heart and for them to honour me the way they did today, I got a bit emotional. I got a bit upset, with the fact this is the end now, that last kick, even though I wasn't fully kitted up. I am not going to play football again.

"I'm starting off on my A licence, getting my feet wet. It's a whole new ball game. It's not going to come easy, you have to learn your trade. And I'm just at the bottom of the ladder. I'm really excited to be working with the Arsenal Under-20s. I've taken some sessions so far and they are very responsive, they want to learn, I see their faces light up when I speak to them so I know I've got them at the minute. I really want to stay involved in the game and I'm delighted Arsenal have kept me on board.

"As a player I've set my targets high. And it is going to be no different with my coaching aspirations. It might take me a bit longer now I'm pregnant, taking a few months off raising the baby, but I want to get back into it as soon as I can. And who knows – manage Arsenal one day, and the highest aspiration is to manage England on the highest stage."

Last updated: 20/02/17 16.12CET

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