Kelly Smith: Arsenal legend talks WSL Hall of Fame entry and 2006/07 quadruple

Kelly Smith Arsenal

The Women’s Super League, England’s top flight of professional women’s football, has introduced its much-anticipated Hall of Fame. 

The league has started to roll out the announcements of its first inductees, which started with England’s most capped ever player, Fara Williams.

Following the influential midfielder came fellow former Lionesses Rachel Yankey and Kelly Smith. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was also named amongst those inducted.

Smith, who played for Arsenal across three different spells in her career, sat down with GiveMeSport Women to reminisce over her glittering career as one of the world’s most recognised female footballers.

To start with, Smith couldn’t believe she had been selected as a member of the WSL Hall of Fame.

“I was elated and actually a little bit gobsmacked,” she admitted. “This is something that is brand new and to be recognised for having a small part in helping to raise the profile of the women’s game in this country – I just felt really honoured.”

Kelly Smith

Smith started her professional football career back in 1994, making her senior debut for Wembley Ladies, a team now known as Championship side London Bees.

She would go on to enjoy stints in both England and the USA, representing the likes of Philadelphia Charge and Boston Breakers. But it was in her iconic red and white jersey at Arsenal where Smith established herself as one of the sport’s best.

Across three stints with the Gunners, Smith made a total of 156 appearances, scoring an astonishing 130 goals in that time. She also collected five league winners’ medals, five FA Cups, two Community Shields, and one Champions League title.

Kelly Smith

Smith won all there was to win with that famous Arsenal side – a team she described as being “unbelievable” to have played in.

“When I look back on it now, the players that I played with and the team that we had – especially during that 2007 year where we won the quadruple – I just look at the squad picture and I just think, wow I played with some amazing players.

“We had such a good squad, a great manager, and to achieve what we did it was something special. Something that I actually don’t think will ever be done in the women’s game again. To win everything is something really special.”

Indeed, the Arsenal side of the 2006/07 season is widely viewed as one of the best teams in history. 

But Smith didn’t just enjoy a decorated domestic career – she is one of England’s most iconic international players.

Kelly Smith England

The ex-forward earned 117 caps for the Lionesses, joining fellow centurions Williams, Jill Scott, and Karen Carney amongst others. In that time, Smith won the 2009 Cyprus Cup and finished second in the EUROs that same year.

With 46 goals for her country, Smith is still England’s highest ever goalscorer. She also represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Last season, Chelsea were on the hunt for winning the domestic treble and came just short of achieving the feat. However, even if they had won the three accolades, it still wouldn’t have scratched the legendary quadruple-winning Arsenal season.

Kelly Smith and Arsenal celebrate

“It was an extremely difficult thing to do but we really believed in ourselves as individuals and as a collective,” Smith reflected.” As a team, we knew how good we were.

“And it was just a fun environment to play in. It was also very competitive – everybody on that team hated to lose. We knew that we had a number of match winners at any given time so if one person wasn’t performing, somebody else would step up. It was just a special environment to be a part of.”

When asked to pinpoint one player who she enjoyed working with the most, Smith simply laughed and said it was impossible to pick just one of her former teammates.

Alex Scott, Pedro Martinez Losa, and Kelly Smith

“I really can’t pick one. Kaz Carney, Gemma Davison, Alex Scott, Faye White, Jayne Ludlow… I can’t name just one because everybody gave so much to the team both on and off the field during that time.”

In 2015, Smith hung up the boots that had helped not only carve out a phenomenal legacy, but build a future for women’s football. Her place in the WSL Hall of Fame will forever encapsulate how she helped light the match to ignite the sport we love today.

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