Born on 29th October 1978 in Watford she is an English centre forward back now from the USA and now playing her third stint at Arsenal LFC in the English FA WSL she is a member of the England women’s national football team.


Kelly’s playing career:


Youth Career:

Kelly Smith regularly played football on boys’ teams. She developed her skills at Wembley Ladies, making her first start in the squad in the 1994-95 seasons. After then moving to Arsenal Ladies during 1996–97, where she scored two goals in a 3–0 win over Liverpool which helped to secured the Premier League title that season.

She spent that year at West Herts College, but transferred to Seton Hall University in the USA in 1997. Kelly enrolled at the university and was a student-athlete. She played for Seton Hall Pirates from 1997 to 1999. In her first year at Seton Hall in 1997, Kelly set scoring records for the Big East Conference and became the first athlete in any sport to be the conference’s forward Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in the same season. In the following two seasons, she was the leading scorer not only in the Big East, but in the whole of NCAA Division I, and was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year in both years. At the end of her university career, the school retired her shirt number 6; she became the first Seton Hall athlete at any sport other than basketball to have a shirt number retired. In her 3 years at Seton Hall, she set school records scoring 76 goals in just 51 matches.


Professional Career in America

Kelly’s first professional club was New Jersey Lady Stallions of W-League, for which she played on from 1999 through 2000. Then a new top-flight women’s league was about to begin in the United States and Kelly stayed in the USA to participate in the project.
The Women’s United Soccer Association was formed in early 2000. Kelly was drafted 2nd overall in the 2001 WUSA Foreign Allocation Draft by Philadelphia Charge. Kelly played all 3 seasons with the Philadelphia Charge and was named in the 2001 WUSA Global 11 All-Star Team. 2001 was her only full season in the league, Kelly missed most of the 2002 season after tearing her ACL in her right knee, and she had missed most of 2003 after re-injuring the same knee. Then the WUSA ceased operations in 2003.
Kelly decided to stay and keep playing in the United States following the collapse of the WUSA. In 2004 she played for the New Jersey Wildcats in the W-League, but she got injured again, this time breaking her leg. She ended up playing just 8 games for the club and scored 8 goals.


“Kelly’s the full package,” says WUSA commissioner (and former US national coach) Tony DiCicco. “The way she moves with the ball and accelerates past defenders. The way she bends free kicks and scores with her head. Watching Kelly is as entertaining as watching any of the great men’s players. She’s that exciting.”


Back in England:

In 2004 Kelly returned back to England and Arsenal in the autumn. She officially rejoined in 2005 after being treated at the Sporting Chance clinic. Kelly was yet again hampered by injury, this time by a stress fracture in her foot. She returned to action at the end of the 2004–05 seasons, scoring a goal from 30 metres out against Charlton Athletic L.F.C. which clinched the Premier League title for Arsenal.

In Arsenal’s historic winning season of 2006–07, Kelly scored 30 goals in 34 games across the four competitions. Over the duration of Kelly’s Arsenal career since rejoining in 2005, she appeared in 66 Premier League games scoring 73 goals, 16 FA Cup games scoring 13 goals, 10 League Cup games scoring four goals, 18 UEFA Women’s Cup games scoring 9 goals, and two Community Shield games scoring one goal for a total of 112 appearances and 100 goals.

In her last competitive game for Arsenal, Kelly scored a hat-trick to help Arsenal to a 5–0 win over Doncaster Belles in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup. She has won the FA Women’s Players’ Player of the year twice in 2006 and 2007.  


Returning back to the United States:

Upon the creation of a new women’s league (WPS) in the United States, Women’s Professional Soccer, many teams were tried to gain Kelly’s services. She was chosen by Boston Breakers 2nd overall in the 2008 WPS International Draft, she was picked above Marta and under only Formiga.


Despite being drafted by Boston, she was still under contact with Arsenal. However, Smith decided to leave Arsenal to join Boston Breakers on 18 February 2009, one of a few English players to join the new WPS League.
In the first season of new (WPS) 2009 Kelly appeared in 15 games and she scored 6 goals. Altogether while playing at Boston she has made 45 appearances and scored a total of 18 goals from 2009 to 2012.

International Career:

We saw Kelly debuted for the England Women’s National Team on 1st November 1995, three days after just turning 17.

The 1-1 draw against Italy was played at Roker Park and Smith won Player of the Match from her position on the left-wing, she also got her 100’s England cap against Italy.
Her first international goal came on the occasion of her second cap, against Croatia on 19th November 1995. Kelly scored an injury-time penalty in England’s 5-0 win at the Valley. The FA later complained to FIFA when Smith’s American college team refused to release her for national team duty.
Kelly is generally considered to be one of the world’s top female players “former United States head coach April Heinrichs asserted that Smith would be an automatic choice for the United States Women’s National Team if she had been eligible” and Vera Pauw, the Dutch coach, called Kelly “the best player in the World” after she scored a hat-trick against the Netherlands in a 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier in 2006.
Kelly has competed in the 2001, 2005, and 2009 editions of the UEFA Women’s Championship, as well as the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup with England. She also played in the 2007 China Cup against the United States, Germany and China where she was named the player of the tournament.
Kelly was voted third in the 2009 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, fourth in 2007 and fifth in 2006 and 2008.

In 2011, she competed in the FIFA World Cup, where she scored from the spot in England’s quarterfinal match with France, to give England a 1–0 lead in the penalty shootout (England would go on to lose the shootout 4–3). Smith, hindered by an Achilles injury, was dissatisfied with her own performances at the tournament: “I have to acknowledge that I didn’t play well and I have to live with that.” She returned to the England squad for a UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 qualifying tie with Serbia after missing the first three matches of the campaign. In total while playing for England Kelly has played 111 times and has scored 45 goals.


In 2008 Birthday Honours, Kelly was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).



Photos:AP/GettyImages/WPS/Anthony Salamone

  1. Ken Suzuki 9 years ago

    Thank you. Then the kickoff is my 2:30am, in the middle of week…..ouch.

  2. Women's Soccer United 10 years ago

    Great article 🙂 Can’t wait to see Kelly playing back in Europe! 

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