Friday 15 November 2019

Video: 'Not good enough to play at this level' - Kelly Smith slams opponent for 'malicious' tackle

Kelly Smith of Arsenal was taken out by a dangerous tackle from Sunderland's Abby Holmes
Kelly Smith of Arsenal was taken out by a dangerous tackle from Sunderland's Abby Holmes

Damian Spellman

England's leading goalscorer Kelly Smith has accused Sunderland defender Abby Holmes of deliberately trying to hurt her with a "malicious" tackle which could sideline her for up to four months.

The 36-year-old Arsenal striker hit out after undergoing surgery to repair ankle ligaments following a challenge by Holmes, who was sent off as a result, during the Gunners' 4-1 Women's Super League victory over the Wearside club at Borehamwood on April 26.

Smith wrote on "I have thought about what to say about this tackle, but there is no hiding the fact: the tackle was malicious and designed to do one thing only - to do serious damage.

"I have watched the tackle twice since on video, so this isn't an emotional verdict. It was a disgraceful tackle and one fully intended to hurt me.

"I have had a lot of reaction from both my team-mates and others in the game and the verdict is the same: Holmes shouldn't be playing in this league.

"Sure, she apologised as I got stretchered off and Sunderland subsequently apologised to Arsenal. That's all well and good, but she should be thinking more about how to tackle, not how to apologise. Those type of tackles end careers. Does she really want to end someone's career?

"She's clearly not good enough to be playing at this level and while she gets a three-match ban I, in effect, get a 15-game ban in the league as well as cup games on top."

Watch the tackle below:

Smith, who announced her retirement from international football in February after making 117 appearances and scoring 46 goals for England, faces a lengthy spell in rehabilitation after the latest serious injury of her career, and fears her reputation may have contributed to her misfortune.


She said: "I am totally laid-up, can barely move to make a coffee or have a shower and face the mental challenge yet again of recovering from a long-term injury.

"Twice before, I have been the victim of a seriously bad challenge, once in America and once playing for England against France. Both resulted in broken legs and some serious mental repercussions.

"This time it's a little different. I am not feeling sorry for myself. I know many, many people are in far worse situations in life than me. I have good people around me and I can assure you I will get through this.

"I am more angry than sad. I don't know whether I'm seen as a good scalp in the women's game because of who I am, but I am sick of being on the receiving end of challenges that are full-on physical attacks.

"I'll worry about the future later. For now I am fully focussed on recovering. But I am absolutely furious and I can't get that tackle out of my head."

Sunderland AFC Ladies declined to comment on Smith's claims.

PA Media

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