Kelly Smith MBE, Britain’s first professional female footballer, has announced her retirement from the sport today at the age of 38.
After signing her first pro-terms contract with New Jersey Lady Stallions in 1999, Smith went on to make her name with three stints at Arsenal Ladies, for whom she bows out as all-time record goalscorer.
She also scored 46 goals in 117 caps for England, which is also an all-time record. Impressive stuff.
— England (@England) January 11, 2017
Breaking the news to BBC Sport, Smith admitted that while she’d love to play on, her body just doesn’t seem to want to let her:
It just feels the time is right now. I think I’ve had a very good career at both international and club level, I’ve travelled the world and, at the age of 38, the body is telling me it needs to stop.
I don’t have any regrets, I’ve loved every minute of it. Every time I put that England shirt on, I felt a lot of emotion playing for my country.
The game is in a magnificent place at the moment and it’s good to step away at the right time.
So there goes one of the most influential English women to have ever played the game, and a player who was present for almost all of the great leaps and galling setbacks the women’s game has been through in the past few decades.
To that end, the Beeb have posted a lovely (if slightly brief) video retrospective of Smith’s amazing career that is definitely worth a watch if you have a couple of minutes to spare.