Footballer: My Story
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The inspiring story of how a girl from Watford became the greatest player in England's history and one of the biggest stars in world football.
All Kelly Smith ever wanted to be was a footballer. Blessed with brilliant talent which she honed with hours of practice, it was soon clear to all who saw her that Kelly was the best women's footballer that England had ever produced. Yet for this shy girl from Watford, it would be a long and difficult journey to the pinnacle of the world game, and one which would involve the hardest of challenges.
After starting drinking to mask her loneliness thousands of miles from home at college in the United States, a series of career-threatening injuries led to severe depression and a battle with alcoholism. But with the fighting spirit that was so essential on her path to be Britain's first women's professional player, Kelly bounced back to inspire Arsenal to countless trophies and become England's record goalscorer.
Footballer: My Story is the inspirational tale of a woman with a drive to succeed despite all the obstacles thrown in her way. It is the unique inside story of a star in a sport enjoyed by millions yet often not granted the recognition it deserves. And as she nears the end of a glittering playing career, it is the story of how Kelly Smith became what she always wanted to be. A professional footballer, in a professional league.
think where it might all lead as well. At times I had to pinch myself to check that I wasn’t dreaming. It was so far away from my experiences as a schoolgirl in Watford. The player draft system, which took place in the autumn of 2000, was the first part of the new Women’s United Soccer Association professional league. It was thrilling to be involved as the whole machine started to whirr into action. After all the USA Women’s World Cup players had been assigned franchises, certain overseas
our rhythm again, and in the end I think a draw was probably a fair result. Although obviously not the result we were looking for from our opening match in the tournament. We were expected to beat Mexico quite comfortably, and because we only drew with them that was considered a disappointing result for us. We felt that too. But we hadn’t been beaten by them. Hope told the BBC after the game that she was ‘glad’ we hadn’t lost the match. I knew what she meant by that. But that again received some
Our performance in Germany, however disappointing it felt to us all at the time, put us sixth in FIFA’s women’s world rankings, behind the USA, Germany, Brazil, Japan and Sweden – the highest position we have ever held. That is one indication of what she has done for women’s football in this country. Two months after the end of the World Cup, at the first match of England’s Euro 2013 qualifying campaign against Serbia in Belgrade, Hope set a new Football Association record, passing Sir Walter
to hang out with the likes of Lionel Messi (Bottom Image). I was also invited to participate in the draw for the Olympics, with some more famous faces. Promoting London 2012 – another fantastic opportunity for women’s football in this country. Acknowledgements To Mum and Dad: without your support, guidance and love I would not be where I am today or have achieved what I have. Thank you xx. To Glen: thanks for being the best brother anyone can ask for. To Alex: thanks for being there for me
States) see WUSA Women’s World Cup (1999) 32, 48–9, 49–50, 52, 56 (2003) 74–5, 76 (2007) (China) 95, 132–41, 157 Argentina group match 138 Germany group match 137–8, 157, 183 Japan group match 132–6 preparation for 130–1 qualification campaign 126–30, 193 quarter-final against USA 139–40 (2011) (Germany) 95, 113, 203–36 attendances 236 criticism of England’s performance against Mexico 212 Japan group match 220–1, 275 Mexico group match 210–12 New Zealand group match 213–17