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banner Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Award is timely boost for Smith
BBC Sport's Sue Thearle
As the Countdown to Euro 2001 reaches its climax, BBC Sport's Sue Thearle caught up with Sue Smith to talk about lunch, awards and Germany.

The smile was as wide as the Mersey and her celebrated cackle was there for all to hear after what has been a super season for Sue Smith.

The Tranmere winger is still buzzing after a storming campaign in the Premier League for her club - form that she's effortlessly transferred to the international stage for England.

It's a great achievement to play for your country, but to win this award for the second time is just unbelievable
  Sue Smith

Not surprisingly those displays have helped her become the Nationwide International Player of the Year for the second time - although to Smith it was still a huge shock.

"To be honest I went down to London just to have a nice day at The Savoy.

"I had no idea I was going to win the award because I thought it would go to Karen Burke.

"So I was really shocked when I found out it was me. It's a great achievement to play for your country, but to win this for the second time is just unbelievable."

England manager Hope Powell admitted that England's journey to the European Championship finals had thrown up several candidates for the prestigious award.


But in the end sheer force of personality and quality had swung it Smith's way.

"It wasn't an easy choice because there are a few players who've done well," explained the England boss.

"But Sue really has done it for us this season. She's been our most consistent player and scored in nearly all our games.

"She's had a maturing season as a player and added to that she's also a lovely person."

Words of praise indeed for the little winger, who is sure to carry big England hopes with her in Germany later this month.

The 21-year-old has already won 32 caps and scored 11 goals and her pace and vision will certainly pose a threat in Euro 2001, starting with Russia on 24 June.

Since the last time we played Germany we have improved immensely and I think they may underestimate us
  Sue Smith

"There's a brilliant atmosphere in the squad. We were all a bit nervy against Scotland but the team spirit has always been fab.

"There's a great mixture of youth and experience and that will stand us in good stead.

"To be honest, we don't know much about Russia but you can guarantee they'll be fit.

"And I know it's sounds like a cliché but it's true for us, we really want to take each game at a time and judge it on its merits. The confidence is definitely there."

England also face former world champions Sweden before their final match of the group stages, a showdown with hosts Germany on 30 June.

England could go into that match needing a result to make the semi-finals and, if that is the case, Smith and her colleagues will be ready for the challenge.

"We always seem to get Germany, just like the men," she chuckled.

"But since the last time we played them we've improved immensely and I think they may underestimate us.

"Hope keeps saying to us that we can't just think that we've been selected and that's it. We've got to go there thinking we can do something and we do.

"We haven't actually lost a match for ages, since the Norway game I think, and that's made us feel confident but not over-confident. We're ready to give it everything."

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