Kelly Smith: England record scorer ends international career

Smith made her England debut in 1995
Smith made her England debut in 1995

England's record goalscorer Kelly Smith has ended her international career.

The 36-year-old forward won 117 caps and scored 46 goals in an England career that lasted almost 20 years.

She made her debut in 1995 and has played in two World Cups and four European Championships, as well as for Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics.

"Playing for England has been such an important part of my life for so long, but I feel now is the right time for me to retire," Smith said.

"I'm at a different stage in my life now, I am focusing on coaching and working my way up to get my licences and stay involved in football that way, along with playing for Arsenal.

"Women's football has changed so much since I started playing and I am proud to have been a part of that."

Smith, who has played professional football in the United States, will continue to play for Arsenal Ladies in the Women's Super League.

Kelly Smith
Team GB reached the quarter-finals at the London Games

She added: "I'm quite sad because it's been a major part of my life for 20 years, but I'm relieved as well because it's taken me two or three months to make this decision. I feel like it's the right one for me moving forward.

"It was harder to get out of bed and stay motivated the same for the national team. I'd still love to have played in the World Cup, but with my injuries of the past couple of years, they have been long-term ones and have hindered me as a player. I didn't have the heart any more to do it.

"I really love playing for my country and I got so emotional hearing the national anthem. It meant so much for me but I just felt it was best to retire."

England head coach Mark Sampson said: "Kelly will be remembered as one of the iconic players in the history of the women's international game.

"The term world class is often overused but, when looking back over Kelly's international career, she has consistently shown on the biggest stage she was without a doubt one of the greatest ever players."

England captain Steph Houghton described Smith as "down to earth" and "humble", and said she would be missed.

"I consider Kelly Smith to be England's best-ever player and feel honoured to have had her as a team-mate," added Houghton.

"When I first came into the England set-up, she was the first person to welcome me into the squad and has been someone I've really looked up as a player and as a person."