Jul 17, 2012, 11:23 PM EDT
The women’s soccer tournament gets a head-start on all other Olympic action when hosts Great Britain face New Zealand in (gasp!) one week and a few hours. We’ll be profiling a few players capable of lighting up the competition.
Kelly Smith battled her way onto Great Britain’s Olympic squad. The 33-year-old’s perseverance paid off, as it has done time and time again. England’s all-time leading goal-scorer has grown accustomed to overcoming long odds. It’s simply become one of her trademarks.
Smith helped kick off Arsenal Ladies’ present era of dominance in the mid-90s before setting off for American shores. Struggles with alcohol saw Smith return to her native England following a noteworthy six-year stint in the States. Chronic injuries began to mount and have since threatened to curtail her career.
This time was no different. A stress fracture sustained in March nearly killed off any hopes of a debut Olympic appearance.
Smith is widely regarded as one of the most prodigious talents England has ever produced. If one were to commission a women’s soccer-themed Mount Rushmore honoring the game’s modern greats, Smith’s visage would almost certainly be included. In short, Great Britain’s Olympic excursion just wouldn’t feel complete without her.
Her recovery and subsequent naming to Team GB’s squad hence provoked a sense of sweet satisfaction.
Smith possesses a sharpness on the ball that enables her to carve open opposing defenses. Her prolific goal-scoring rate speaks to her lethal ability in front of net. She offers much more than scoring prowess, though. Smith has recently excelled as a traditional no. 10 and can orchestrate the attack from midfield.
Her knack for turning in bright performances despite injury made her a league darling during her time with the Boston Breakers in Women’s Professional Soccer. Great Britain will hope she can still muster some of that fighting spirit as she enters what could be her final major competition.
If the end is indeed nigh for Kelly Smith’s illustrious career, she can conclude it where it began. How’s that for a positively royal ending?
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