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Last year was a frustrating one for Kelly Smith but it ended on a high as the England forward struck a hat-trick in Arsenal LFC's dramatic 4-3 UEFA Women's Champions League win at 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in November to set up a quarter-final with Italy's ASD Torres CF. Ahead of Wednesday's home first leg, Smith spoke to UEFA.com about the tie, the Stamford Bridge final and her hope of making amends for missing the decider six years ago when Arsenal took the trophy for the only time.
UEFA.com: Looking forward to the game?
Kelly Smith: Yes, buzzing for it, can't wait. Champions League for us is the ultimate in club football. And with Arsenal we've been lucky enough to win it in 2007, we know what that feeling's like, and we'd obviously like to get to the final as it's in London, at Chelsea – another great occasion for English women's football. We'd love to be there in the final.
[Torres] is a big tie for us. There's no easy game in the Champions League; we found that out against Potsdam. But obviously we've just played [Italy with England in the Cyprus Women's Cup] and beat them 4-2, so we know some of their players and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Hopefully our new manager [Shelley Kerr] has also scouted them and given us the right information to beat them.
UEFA.com: Do you know much about Torres? Obviously you've seen some of the players, including Patrizia Panico, who I suppose is their best known player ...
She's a great player, and even at the age of 38 she's still got the movement and the craft up here. We have to be careful of her, definitely. But no, we don't know too much; obviously we are trying to pick up some points, playing against them and know who their key players are, and as I said, what their strengths and weaknesses are as individuals.
As a team, I've never personally played against them, so it will be my first experience of that. We'll try and take that information that we've got from this experience and go and help our other Arsenal team-mates, [with] the knowledge that we picked up [in Cyprus].
UEFA.com: And the Potsdam game, as you also mentioned, it was an important game for the team, because you'd never beaten a German side before. It was an important game for you as well, after maybe a frustrating year ...
Smith: I was really pleased to contribute in both games, really. Coming off the back of a broken leg, I just felt like I was getting going, and then obviously the season stopped. We were delighted to have beaten Potsdam, especially away from home, and to score as many goals as we did in the game – really pleased with it. It's the first time a British team have beaten a German side, so it shows just how far English football is progressing.
UEFA.com: You also mentioned the London final. For you, is there a special incentive after what happened in 2007, when you missed both legs of the final through suspension?
I was devastated to have missed such a monumental final in Arsenal's history. But I still played a big part in the process to get into the final, so I still feel a part of it and that I did my job. But disappointed not to have played, obviously. So yes, there is a bit more hunger in me to obviously try and beat the Italians and then see who we get in the semi-finals. And hopefully, as I said, it will be special to play in that Champions League final, in London.
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