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Kelly Smith saluted her team mates after being voted as Players' Player of the Year for the second year in a row at the FA National Women' Football Awards.
"A number of players this season have done as well, if not better, than myself but I do feel proud that I have been voted for this award again," Kelly told Women's Soccer Scene afterwards. "Thank you to everybody that voted for me in the Premier League - it's really nice to be recognised again."
The award rounds off a remarkable year for England's star player, who helped Arsenal to an unprecedented four trophies and an unbeaten record which lasted the entire campaign. "Arsenal have done exceptionally well this year and won the quadruple, which I don't think will ever be done again in the history of women's football to be honest," she smiled, "but it's not to take anything away from the other teams, Everton have finished second and gone into Europe so well done to them. It's been a great, great year for everybody involved with Arsenal and to be the best in Europe is an amazing accomplishment.
"It's just an amazing club to play for. Vic Akers has done so much for the women's game in the last 20 years he's been involved in, he has really led Arsenal to the top of the leaderboard and other teams are trying to play catch up."
Arsenal will be defending four trophies next season and Kelly admits that they are looking forward to the challenge. "Our main job next year is to retain the league title, that's our bread and butter," she said. "We've got the task of defending our crown in Europe, which everyone is looking forward to. I think it's going to be extremely hard for us because when we have played the likes of Frankfurt and Umea, who have won it before, we've really gone after them so we know that people will look at us in the same way and try and knock us off our pedestal, but we're ready for it."
No team has ever successfully defended the UEFA Women's Cup in its short history, but for Kelly there will be an extra incentive next season after missing the Final through suspension. "Obviously I was devastated to miss the UEFA Cup Final but the fault was my own, I was sent off in the semi final in Denmark and was given a three match ban. That was a low point in my career that I didn't get to play in the Final but at the same time, the girls rallied together and were excellent."
Before all that, Kelly is set to go with England to the World Cup in China this coming September and has captained her country in their recent internationals. At long last, she will get the opportunity to parade her skills on the world stage. "It's a childhood dream for me to play in the World Cup," she said. "Fingers crossed, I will get picked, and can take the team forward into China. We're happy with the group we are drawn in and I think we've got a really good chance of getting out of the group and anything can happen once we're in the quarter final stage. Everybody's confident and I can't wait for it to start.
"We are playing really well as a unit at the moment and we're really enjoying our football. We need to be doing that once we go into the World Cup - we know that there are one or two things that we need to work on and that will happen between now and September."
Photo - www.jamesprickett.co.uk
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