The player, who has scored 21 times in 61 appearances for the Three Lions will be returning to the scene of arguably her finest hour on the international stage when she lands in China.

Back in January, she was part of the England squad which took part in the Four Nations Tournament and her displays earned her the player of the tournament award.

 
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photo FA



"The Four Nations tournament in China really whetted my appetite for the World Cup," she told FIFA.com. "I was lucky to be named the MVP, which I was delighted to receive considering we were playing against the USA, Germany and China.

"Although it is nice to receive accolades and plaudits, for me it's just about going onto the pitch and performing. I just enjoy taking part in the game I love to play. I always try to play with a smile on my face and get the team going. But yes, there is a mean streak to me too - I want to win every game and score goals too. I'm extremely competitive in that respect."


Smith's competitive streak was nurtured in the USA, where she became the first (and only) English player to play professionally. Although her appearances were limited in the latter part of her spell due to a number of injuries, she was one of the league's most popular players.

"Going to the US helped me a lot," she admitted. "I became used to playing regularly with and against the best players in the world. When I went over there I was taken aback with the level of intensity that they showed in training every day, their enthusiasm and appetite for the game - it rubbed off on me and it developed my game.

"Now, I'm using what I learned in the States to help the English game develop - and that's given me tremendous satisfaction."

Since returning from the US in 2005, Smith signed up with her first club Arsenal and became the assistant Academy director of the club's women's side.

As well as that, she was part of the history making Arsenal team which won the league title, The FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup last season. A total of 57 goals in 58 starts for the club in her second spell highlights her importance to the Gunners and to England.

England coach Hope Powell was quick to recognize her importance to the team in a recent interview with FIFA.com.

"She's a vital member of this team and a great player," said Powell. "For us, it's important that Kelly plays well, but she needs to be supported by the players around her. Kelly cannot win a game on her own.

"In China, I thought that Kelly did OK, but I've seen her play much better. However, she was given a greater exposure during the Four Nations tournament and that attention will no doubt give her a lot of confidence, which I believe will help her prove that she is one of the world's greatest players during this World Cup."

For Smith, who made her England debut just a few months after her country's only appearance at the FIFA Women's World Cup finals in 1995, an appearance at China 2007 will represent the fulfilling of a career-long ambition.

"It's been a dream of mine to play at a World Cup for well over a decade," she said. "I can't wait to play on the biggest stage of them all - in a competition which everyone says is amazing. Hopefully, we can come out and have a good tournament.

"We always seem to get drawn with Germany, but that could work in our favour. It will be interesting to come up against Japan and Argentina. The games against them are crucial - we simply have to win them both to get out of the group. And when you enter the knockout stages, anything can happen!"