Arsenal

Kelly Smith on her return to Arsenal watch out.

Kelly Smith, assistant coach of our women’s first team, discusses her return to the club, explains her role, and comments on how far the sport has come.

So much has changed in the game since I was a player. I think the biggest change I’ve noticed coming back in, is how incredibly professional the side is now. There are so many more staff members and resources here at Arsenal – we’ve got three video technicians, a full-time sports psychologist, a full-time nutritionist and a set piece specialist. Even the facilities are light years away from what I was used to. Our girls have a world-class gym, quality pitches and a chef on-site. We didn’t even have meals provided but this squad can get breakfast, lunch and dinner if they want it. I’m honestly so happy about how much the club has grown behind the scenes because it helps the team on the pitch as much as possible.

The standard of play has also grown exponentially because the players are fully professionals now. They’re getting full-time coaching and their fitness levels are a lot better because they’re able to train every day. Football is their main job and their main focus, whereas, at the start of my career, we were juggling part-time jobs. It was quite hard to be as fit as possible back then, but now fitness levels are elite because they have the time and the support.

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INTERVIEW
Kelly Smith on her return to Arsenal
Arsenal Media
24 Dec 2023
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Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith, assistant coach of our women’s first team, discusses her return to the club, explains her role, and comments on how far the sport has come.

So much has changed in the game since I was a player. I think the biggest change I’ve noticed coming back in, is how incredibly professional the side is now. There are so many more staff members and resources here at Arsenal – we’ve got three video technicians, a full-time sports psychologist, a full-time nutritionist and a set piece specialist. Even the facilities are light years away from what I was used to. Our girls have a world-class gym, quality pitches and a chef on-site. We didn’t even have meals provided but this squad can get breakfast, lunch and dinner if they want it. I’m honestly so happy about how much the club has grown behind the scenes because it helps the team on the pitch as much as possible.

The standard of play has also grown exponentially because the players are fully professionals now. They’re getting full-time coaching and their fitness levels are a lot better because they’re able to train every day. Football is their main job and their main focus, whereas, at the start of my career, we were juggling part-time jobs. It was quite hard to be as fit as possible back then, but now fitness levels are elite because they have the time and the support.

Kelly Smith 2
Naturally, it makes me think about what Arsenal Women back in 2007 could have achieved under modern circumstances. We had such a good squad with such a high calibre of players and different personalities and we had to fight for everything. That mentality brought our group closer together because even though we weren’t fully professional athletes, we wanted to portray a level of professionalism and respect the club in that way.

Everyone just had a winning mentality. We hated to lose and we knew that anyone who played us wanted to beat us even more because of the club’s stature. Arsenal was always the leading club and for any team that played us, it was like their cup final, so we knew that we had to bring our A-game every single time. It is great to see other clubs up their game and see the progression of the game across the world because it means we’re getting closer to a level playing field, which there simply wasn’t back then.

I remember characters like Jayne Ludlow being so feisty, putting tackles in, fighting for the badge, fighting for our teammates. She was so aggressive in her play and she led by example. Faye White was another diehard for the club; Rachel Yankee and Alex Scott were players who just loved playing for Arsenal. There was a big team cohesion within that unit because we loved the club and we knew what it meant to represent Arsenal. I’d love to see my team that won the quadruple in 2006/07 play in the WSL now because I think we’d give anyone a run for their money!

Adidas
Emirates
Visit Rwanda
INTERVIEW
Kelly Smith on her return to Arsenal
Arsenal Media
24 Dec 2023
Share
Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith, assistant coach of our women’s first team, discusses her return to the club, explains her role, and comments on how far the sport has come.

So much has changed in the game since I was a player. I think the biggest change I’ve noticed coming back in, is how incredibly professional the side is now. There are so many more staff members and resources here at Arsenal – we’ve got three video technicians, a full-time sports psychologist, a full-time nutritionist and a set piece specialist. Even the facilities are light years away from what I was used to. Our girls have a world-class gym, quality pitches and a chef on-site. We didn’t even have meals provided but this squad can get breakfast, lunch and dinner if they want it. I’m honestly so happy about how much the club has grown behind the scenes because it helps the team on the pitch as much as possible.

The standard of play has also grown exponentially because the players are fully professionals now. They’re getting full-time coaching and their fitness levels are a lot better because they’re able to train every day. Football is their main job and their main focus, whereas, at the start of my career, we were juggling part-time jobs. It was quite hard to be as fit as possible back then, but now fitness levels are elite because they have the time and the support.

Kelly Smith 2
Naturally, it makes me think about what Arsenal Women back in 2007 could have achieved under modern circumstances. We had such a good squad with such a high calibre of players and different personalities and we had to fight for everything. That mentality brought our group closer together because even though we weren’t fully professional athletes, we wanted to portray a level of professionalism and respect the club in that way.

Everyone just had a winning mentality. We hated to lose and we knew that anyone who played us wanted to beat us even more because of the club’s stature. Arsenal was always the leading club and for any team that played us, it was like their cup final, so we knew that we had to bring our A-game every single time. It is great to see other clubs up their game and see the progression of the game across the world because it means we’re getting closer to a level playing field, which there simply wasn’t back then.

I remember characters like Jayne Ludlow being so feisty, putting tackles in, fighting for the badge, fighting for our teammates. She was so aggressive in her play and she led by example. Faye White was another diehard for the club; Rachel Yankee and Alex Scott were players who just loved playing for Arsenal. There was a big team cohesion within that unit because we loved the club and we knew what it meant to represent Arsenal. I’d love to see my team that won the quadruple in 2006/07 play in the WSL now because I think we’d give anyone a run for their money!

Smith Scott
Nowadays, no game in the league is easy. You have to approach every game as if it’s going to be one of your toughest because we’ve already seen so many upsets and I’m sure there are going to be more. That comes down to mentality. The message that we’re trying to get across to the players is that just because you’re Arsenal, you can’t walk across the line and expect to win. You have to fight and earn the right and play the way that we want to play.

Coming back and seeing the inner workings of the club has been an eye-opener, because I’ve been out of the coaching game since 2016. Alongside Jonas, I’m learning from some top-level coaches here every day which is amazing. Aaron D’Antino leads the training sessions with Jonas and he’s just a fantastic coach. Very knowledgeable, very passionate and he gets his ideas across very easily to the players. As for Renee Slegers, I actually used to coach her when I was the assistant coach at the Arsenal Academy. She went away, earned her coaching badges and it’s so nice to have her back on board. Renee already knows the club and despite taking on a big responsibility with the group, she’s slotted in really easily.

My main focus is the number nines so that’s Alessia, Stina and Viv. They’re three very different players, which is what I think is so great about this club. With Stina, you’ve got one of the most powerful forwards and best runners in behind. There aren’t many forwards who are quick enough to notice that space in behind. We’ve got Alessia whose hold-up play is absolutely outstanding. I didn’t realise until working so closely with her how good she is with her back to goal and playing others in. And then you’ve got Viv who’s a combination of those two styles. She can run in behind, she can drop to feet, she’s got a fantastic range of passing and vision.

Everyone is very different so it’s about honing those individual strengths. I help them out in training, watch the video footage back and explore what they could have done better in certain situations.

A huge part of being a striker is mentality and confidence. I can’t speak for the other three, but when I was playing, I would try and tune out the critical noise as much as possible and just get down in training and work as hard as possible.

We’re in a luxurious position where we’ve got three quality strikers that we can rotate depending on the strengths that we want to bring to the side or the weaknesses that we see in the opposition. But the flip side of that is obviously that the players don’t know if they’ll be starting week-in, week-out. So you have to bring the best version of yourself to training and believe that hard work will translate on the pitch when you get your chance.

We see how tough the competition for places is across the pitch. It’s been a breath of fresh air to have Beth back, seeing the graft and skill that she brings to the side. Cloe is a real hard worker for the team and she’s been vital in getting us goals and assists in big games. Then there’s Caitlin, a tricky, skilful winger who likes to go one-on-one and Frida, a strong, powerful runner with an incredible strike. We’ve got such quality and versatility in attack so it’s a joy to work with.

For Beth in particular, it’s brilliant to see her back where she belongs because of all the hard work she’s put in throughout the year. It’s to be expected when you’ve been so long out, but when she first joined team training, she was a little rusty and a little off the pace. But the more and more Beth trained with the group, you could see her confidence coming back and her sharpness coming back. She was pushing to get on the bench and then she was pushing for a start because of her work ethic and the quality she brings. I was up in the stands for the West Ham game when Beth scored her comeback goal and the whole squad was just so happy for her. We all know how hard she’s worked and not only is she such a great team player, she’s also such a good person too. She fully deserved that.

Home
NEWS
Menu
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INTERVIEW
Kelly Smith on her return to Arsenal
Arsenal Media
24 Dec 2023
Share
Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith, assistant coach of our women’s first team, discusses her return to the club, explains her role, and comments on how far the sport has come.

So much has changed in the game since I was a player. I think the biggest change I’ve noticed coming back in, is how incredibly professional the side is now. There are so many more staff members and resources here at Arsenal – we’ve got three video technicians, a full-time sports psychologist, a full-time nutritionist and a set piece specialist. Even the facilities are light years away from what I was used to. Our girls have a world-class gym, quality pitches and a chef on-site. We didn’t even have meals provided but this squad can get breakfast, lunch and dinner if they want it. I’m honestly so happy about how much the club has grown behind the scenes because it helps the team on the pitch as much as possible.

The standard of play has also grown exponentially because the players are fully professionals now. They’re getting full-time coaching and their fitness levels are a lot better because they’re able to train every day. Football is their main job and their main focus, whereas, at the start of my career, we were juggling part-time jobs. It was quite hard to be as fit as possible back then, but now fitness levels are elite because they have the time and the support.

Kelly Smith 2
Naturally, it makes me think about what Arsenal Women back in 2007 could have achieved under modern circumstances. We had such a good squad with such a high calibre of players and different personalities and we had to fight for everything. That mentality brought our group closer together because even though we weren’t fully professional athletes, we wanted to portray a level of professionalism and respect the club in that way.

Everyone just had a winning mentality. We hated to lose and we knew that anyone who played us wanted to beat us even more because of the club’s stature. Arsenal was always the leading club and for any team that played us, it was like their cup final, so we knew that we had to bring our A-game every single time. It is great to see other clubs up their game and see the progression of the game across the world because it means we’re getting closer to a level playing field, which there simply wasn’t back then.

I remember characters like Jayne Ludlow being so feisty, putting tackles in, fighting for the badge, fighting for our teammates. She was so aggressive in her play and she led by example. Faye White was another diehard for the club; Rachel Yankee and Alex Scott were players who just loved playing for Arsenal. There was a big team cohesion within that unit because we loved the club and we knew what it meant to represent Arsenal. I’d love to see my team that won the quadruple in 2006/07 play in the WSL now because I think we’d give anyone a run for their money!

Smith Scott
Nowadays, no game in the league is easy. You have to approach every game as if it’s going to be one of your toughest because we’ve already seen so many upsets and I’m sure there are going to be more. That comes down to mentality. The message that we’re trying to get across to the players is that just because you’re Arsenal, you can’t walk across the line and expect to win. You have to fight and earn the right and play the way that we want to play.

Coming back and seeing the inner workings of the club has been an eye-opener, because I’ve been out of the coaching game since 2016. Alongside Jonas, I’m learning from some top-level coaches here every day which is amazing. Aaron D’Antino leads the training sessions with Jonas and he’s just a fantastic coach. Very knowledgeable, very passionate and he gets his ideas across very easily to the players. As for Renee Slegers, I actually used to coach her when I was the assistant coach at the Arsenal Academy. She went away, earned her coaching badges and it’s so nice to have her back on board. Renee already knows the club and despite taking on a big responsibility with the group, she’s slotted in really easily.

Russo Smith
My main focus is the number nines so that’s Alessia, Stina and Viv. They’re three very different players, which is what I think is so great about this club. With Stina, you’ve got one of the most powerful forwards and best runners in behind. There aren’t many forwards who are quick enough to notice that space in behind. We’ve got Alessia whose hold-up play is absolutely outstanding. I didn’t realise until working so closely with her how good she is with her back to goal and playing others in. And then you’ve got Viv who’s a combination of those two styles. She can run in behind, she can drop to feet, she’s got a fantastic range of passing and vision.

Everyone is very different so it’s about honing those individual strengths. I help them out in training, watch the video footage back and explore what they could have done better in certain situations.

A huge part of being a striker is mentality and confidence. I can’t speak for the other three, but when I was playing, I would try and tune out the critical noise as much as possible and just get down in training and work as hard as possible.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air to have Beth back, seeing the graft and skill that she brings”

We’re in a luxurious position where we’ve got three quality strikers that we can rotate depending on the strengths that we want to bring to the side or the weaknesses that we see in the opposition. But the flip side of that is obviously that the players don’t know if they’ll be starting week-in, week-out. So you have to bring the best version of yourself to training and believe that hard work will translate on the pitch when you get your chance.

We see how tough the competition for places is across the pitch. It’s been a breath of fresh air to have Beth back, seeing the graft and skill that she brings to the side. Cloe is a real hard worker for the team and she’s been vital in getting us goals and assists in big games. Then there’s Caitlin, a tricky, skilful winger who likes to go one-on-one and Frida, a strong, powerful runner with an incredible strike. We’ve got such quality and versatility in attack so it’s a joy to work with.

For Beth in particular, it’s brilliant to see her back where she belongs because of all the hard work she’s put in throughout the year. It’s to be expected when you’ve been so long out, but when she first joined team training, she was a little rusty and a little off the pace. But the more and more Beth trained with the group, you could see her confidence coming back and her sharpness coming back. She was pushing to get on the bench and then she was pushing for a start because of her work ethic and the quality she brings. I was up in the stands for the West Ham game when Beth scored her comeback goal and the whole squad was just so happy for her. We all know how hard she’s worked and not only is she such a great team player, she’s also such a good person too. She fully deserved that.

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Of course, it’s very nice to hear that Beth was inspired by players like me growing up, especially now that she’s an inspiration for so many young girls herself. For girls dreaming of becoming a footballer, Beth is one of the biggest names and rightly so, after her performances for Arsenal and what she achieved with England at the Euros. Hopefully, she can continue to elevate herself and come back even better than she was before. I think that’s always the goal. It certainly was for me when I was out injured: I wanted to prove that I could come back, reach my previous level and then try and exceed it. There will always be doubters out there, but I think if she can stay injury-free and keep training hard, the sky’s the limit for Beth.

I’ve loved being back in the footballing environment. You see the cohesiveness that the team has on a daily basis, but more than that, you see how much they want to win. I see the winning mentality that my generation had in this squad and that’s exactly what you want as an Arsenal player. There are days when it doesn’t go as well in training but they pick each other up as a unit. Everybody trains as hard as they can to give Jonas a headache when it comes to team selection. I think we’ve got the biggest squad that we’ve had in a good few years and the competitiveness for places is rife. Kathrine Kuhl is a fantastic player, one of the best young players in Europe, and she hasn’t had the minutes she might have wanted, but it just goes to show you the level of players that we have. We’ve got some great young talent in the squad and that constantly keeps the older players on their toes. It’s a good blend.

There’s no better player in the world that you could learn from than Kim Little. She’s not the most vocal captain, but what she brings to the team in terms of experience, energy and work rate, is so inspiring. Plus, her quality on the ball and levels are just top-notch. I think a lot of the younger players see that on the training pitch every day and try to bring that same energy.

The youngsters like Kathrine, Frida, Vic and Kyra are players who will hopefully be at Arsenal for a number of years and will be leading the way in making the club successful. They’re so talented already and now they’ve got to learn the art of what it means to play for Arsenal and bring that high-level performance on a weekly basis. They’ve got great players to learn from in the squad who already do that like Kim, like Lia Walti, like Leah Williamson. Leah has been out but we can’t wait to have her back for her vocal leadership and just immense quality. It’s such an exciting group to be around right now.

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