England women’s record goalscorer Kelly Smith has announced her retirement from football.
Arsenal Ladies striker Smith, who scored 46 goals in 117 appearances for England, announced the news on her website and said she would be taking up a coaching role at the club.
The 38-year-old said: “My deepest thanks to everyone at Arsenal Football Club for making it possible for me to pursue my childhood dream – representing the club I grew up supporting.
“I am so proud to have been part of the Arsenal family for so many years, and prouder still to have contributed to its many successes and much silverware.
“I’m excited to confirm my next step, which will see me take up a full-time coaching role within the club.
“A fantastic opportunity to pay back the club I love, and to nurture the next generation of female football talent.”
Smith started her career with Wembley Ladies before beginning her first spell at Arsenal in 1996, and became the first English female professional footballer to join an American side when she signed for New Jersey in 1999.
Speaking to the BBC, she said: “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.”
Smith, who ended her international career in February 2015, played in two World Cups and four European Championships and was awarded an MBE for services to football in 2008.
England manager Mark Sampson said: “She will be remembered as one of the greatest players to have played the game.
“The many thousands of young people who took up the game after being inspired by Kelly will never forget the inspiration and joy she brought just from watching her play.
“It will absolutely be a loss to the game on the field. I hope she will now go on to enjoy a wonderful career off the field.”