US-based England striker Kelly Smith has been dubbed ‘a genius’ by New Jersey Wildcats coach Charlie Naimo.
US-based England striker Kelly Smith has signed for W-League club New Jersey Wildcats – and has immediately been dubbed ‘a genius’ by Wildcats coach Charlie Naimo.
"Kelly Smith is flat-out one of the best overall players in the world," said Naimo, who has followed the striker’s career since she was starring on the American college soccer scene. "From the first moment I saw Kelly play at Seton Hall," added Naimo, "I have been a huge fan and I’m really excited to be working with her.
"No words can describe the way she plays - she’s absolutely electric. She’s strong, intense, quick with the ball, but her best attribute is how clever she is – she’s a genius."
That’s a massive billing to live up to, but Smith takes her new coach’s words in her stride as she begins preparing for what will be her return to W-League football. The one-time Arsenal striker spent two seasons in the League with New Jersey Stallions before joining WUSA outfit Philadelphia Charge.
The demise of the first professional women’s soccer league has led to Smith’s move back to the W-League in what the Wildcats call ‘the most substantial signing in the team’s history’.
Speaking from her New Jersey home, Smith - who will captain the Wildcats – said: "It’s nice to have compliments like Charlie’s, but I don’t think it puts extra pressure on me. I just want to start playing on a regular basis again and this will give me the opportunity I’ve been looking for at a good level of soccer against quality opposition.
"As well as myself the Wildcats have signed one of my Philadelphia team mates, Anne Makinen, and USA international Heather O’Reilly - so they mean business. There could be another major signing on the way too, and I’m really looking forward to starting training towards the end of April and our first League game on 8th May.
"I believe we can be successful in the W-League, and a bonus for me will be the extra fitness and match-sharpness I’ll have if I’m selected for England games. I really want to help the national team in the build-up to next year’s European Championship Finals and I’d obviously love to play in the tournament itself.
"Failing to qualify for last year’s World Cup Finals in America was a big blow, but it would be great to play in Euro 2005 – especially as it’s in England and in front of our own fans."