Fran Kirby

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Fran Kirby
Fran Kirby 20181009.jpg
Kirby with England in 2018
Personal information
Full name Francesca Kirby[1]
Date of birth (1993-06-29) 29 June 1993 (age 29)[1]
Place of birth Reading, England[2]
Height 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)[1]
Position(s) Forward, attacking midfielder[1]
Club information
Current team
Chelsea
Number 14
Youth career
2001–2010 Reading
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2012–2015 Reading 42 (68)
2015– Chelsea 86 (56)
National team
2013–2014 England U23 4 (1)
2014– England 63 (17)
2021– Great Britain 2 (0)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 15:42, 11 November 2020 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of 22:40, 31 July 2022 (UTC)

Francesca "Fran" Kirby (born 29 June 1993) is an English professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Chelsea and the England national team. She began her career with hometown club Reading before moving to Chelsea in July 2015. In August 2014, Kirby won her first senior cap for England. She represented her country at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada, the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France and the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.

In April 2018, Kirby was awarded the PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year and the Football Writers' Women's Footballer of the Year.[3] She was named to the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or in 2021, ranking 10th. She was also named to the Top 10 of The Guardian's The 100 Best Female Footballers In The World in 2021, ranking 7th.[4]

As of December 2020, she is Chelsea's all-time top scorer.[5]

Early life[edit]

[My mum] used to tell a story about taking me to the doctors for a couple of tests. The doctor threw a tennis ball to see how I would react. I think I was supposed to just catch it, but I kicked it straight back to him. I was three years old. My mum just went, "O.K., ... I thinks she wants to be a footballer."

Fran Kirby[6]

Born and raised in Reading with her brother Jamie and parents Denise and Steve,[7] Kirby began playing football as a young girl after watching her brother play. She would play any chance she got: at school, in the street, in the front garden.[8] At a young age, her mother, Denise, wrote in a birthday card that Fran would play in a World Cup one day: she was her biggest supporter.[7] When Fran was 14, her mother died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage.[7] Two years later, she experienced a deep depression.[7]

Kirby attended Caversham Park Primary School and Chiltern Edge, Sonning Common where she played against boys.[9][10] At age 7, she joined Reading's academy and made her senior debut at 16.[11]

Club career[edit]

Reading, 2012–15[edit]

Kirby joined her hometown club Reading at the age of seven and worked her way through the youth teams. She made her debut for the first team at the age of sixteen but quit football the following year after an onset of depression, brought about by the death of her mother.[12][13] Kirby returned to the club in 2012 and went on to become the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division's top scorer for the 2012–13 season, with 32 goals in 21 appearances.[14]

With Reading promoted to the newly formed Women's Super League 2 for 2014, Kirby helped the team achieve third place with 24 goals in sixteen appearances.[15] She ended the season as the league's top goalscorer; netting four against London Bees,[16] as well as hat-tricks against Durham, Watford and Doncaster Rovers Belles.[17][18][19] Shortly after, she became the first female player to receive a professional contract from the club.[20] At the 2014 FA Women's Awards, Kirby was named the inaugural WSL2 Players' Player of the Year.[21]

Kirby continued her goalscoring form into the 2015 WSL2 season, taking 11 goals in five league appearances for Reading, including all four goals in a 4–2 away win against Yeovil Town and five goals in a 7–0 win against London Bees.[22][23] Following the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, Reading accepted an undisclosed transfer fee from Chelsea and she completed a move in July 2015.[24] It was reported that the fee of between £40,000 and £60,000 constituted a British record, although Chelsea denied this was the case and Kirby was not aware of the figure.[25]

Chelsea, 2015–[edit]

At the 2015 FA Women's Cup Final, staged at Wembley Stadium for the first time, Kirby was a cup-tied spectator for Chelsea's 1–0 win over Notts County. It was Chelsea's first major trophy.[26] In October 2015, she scored twice in Chelsea's 4–0 win over Sunderland which secured the club's first FA WSL title; a league and cup double.[27] The same month, Kirby scored Chelsea's first ever UEFA Women's Champions League goal in a 1–0 win over Glasgow City.[28]

Kirby during a 2019–20 FA Women's League Cup match, November 2019

Kirby's form extended into the 2016 FA WSL season. In April, she secured Chelsea's return to Wembley Stadium by scoring a late, extra-time winner against Manchester City in the FA Women's Cup semi-final.[29] Four days later, she scored both goals in Chelsea's 2–0 WSL win at Arsenal.[30]

On 22 April 2018, Kirby was awarded the PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year and the Football Writers' Women's Footballer of the Year for the 2017–18 season.[31]

In February 2020, Chelsea announced that Kirby was diagnosed with pericarditis,[32][33] which had ruled her out of the team since November 2019.[32][34] She overcame her infection, despite being told by cardiologists that she may never play again,[33] and played 70 minutes in Chelsea's FA Community Shield win against Manchester City on 29 August 2020.[35] On 9 December 2020, Kirby's 2 goals in a 5–0 win against Benfica in the UEFA Women's Champions League, saw her overtake Eniola Aluko as Chelsea's all-time goal scorer, with her 69th and 70th goals for the club, five years after signing.[36]

During a match against her former club, Reading on 10 January 2021, Kirby scored four goals lifting Chelsea to a 5–0 win.[37] In the 2021 FA Women's League Cup final match against Bristol City W.F.C., Kirby scored two goals and created four assists as defending champions Chelsea won 6–0 at Vicarage Road.[38]

Kirby was singled out by observers as the top performer for Chelsea during their double-winning 2020–21 campaign.[39][40][41] She later won FWA's 2021 Women's Footballer of the Year award.[39][42] On 5 December, Kirby scored the opening goal in the delayed 2020–21 FA Cup final against Arsenal, helping her team lift the trophy and secure the domestic quadruple of the 2020–21 season, the first English women's club to achieve the feat.[43]

International career[edit]

Kirby in 2019

Early in her career, Kirby was a member of the England under-23 squad. She became the first WSL 2 player to be called up to the senior squad, in June 2014 for the World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Ukraine.[44] She was named on the substitutes' bench against Belarus but did not make an appearance. She made her senior international debut against Sweden in August 2014, getting the second goal in a 4–0 friendly win at Victoria Park, Hartlepool.[45]

In May 2015, England manager Mark Sampson named Kirby in his final squad for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, hosted in Canada.[46] She scored in England's 2–1 win over Mexico[47] and was hailed "mini Messi" by Sampson.[47][33] Although Kirby was disappointed to be ruled out by injury from the quarter-finals onwards, England's eventual third-place finish left her with a positive overall impression of the tournament: "a fantastic experience and one I won't forget in a hurry."[48]

Sampson kept Kirby in the national team for the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 qualifying campaign. In Estonia on 21 September 2015 she scored twice in England's 8–0 win.[49][50] After "12 months of hell" caused by knee and ankle injuries, Kirby returned to England's line-up for UEFA Women's Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.[51] In England's opening fixture against rivals Scotland, second striker Kirby's clever dummy sent Jodie Taylor through to score England's opening goal in a 6–0 rout.[52] In the next match Kirby and Taylor scored in a 2–0 win over Spain, which secured England's place in the quarter-final.[53] When England were thrashed 3–0 by the hosts in the semi-final, Kirby was rueful: "We had chances and could have had a few penalties. We are bitterly disappointed".[54]

On 6 October 2018, Kirby scored in England's 1–0 friendly win over Brazil at Meadow Lane. In post-match interviews England coach Phil Neville breathlessly proclaimed Kirby's superiority to six-time World Player of the Year Marta: "I'd take my No 10 over Brazil's No 10, that's for sure".[55]

In June 2022 Kirby was included in the England squad which won the UEFA Women's Euro 2022.[56][57]

Great Britain[edit]

Kirby was hailed as a "stand out player" in Great Britain's gold medal-winning team at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia.[58] She went on to represent Great Britain at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 30 August 2022[59]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Reading 2014 Women's Super League 0 0 4 4 4 4
Total 0 0 4 4 0 0!4 4
Chelsea 2015 Women's Super League 5 4 3 3 4[a] 2 12 9
2016 Women's Super League 7 5 0 0 7 5
2017 Women's Super League 5 6 0 0 5 6
2017–18 Women's Super League 17 8 6 7 8[a] 4 31 19
2018–19 Women's Super League 16 9 5 4 8[a] 5 29 18
2019–20 Women's Super League 4 0 2 0 6 0
2020–21 Women's Super League 18 16 7 6 9 6 34 28
2021–22 Women's Super League 13 6 3 0 6 2 22 8
Total 85 54 26 20 35 19 146 93
Career totals 85 54 30 24 35 19 150 97
  1. ^ a b c Appearances in the UEFA Women's Champions League

International[edit]

Statistics accurate as of match played 26 July 2022.
Year England Great Britain
Apps Goals Apps Goals
2014 ? 1
2015 ? 4
2016 ? 0
2017 ? 4
2018 ? 3
2019 ? 1
2020 ? 0
2021 ? 1 1 0
2022 11 3
Total 62 17 1 0
As of match played 26 July 2022
Scores and results list England's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Kirby goal.
List of international goals scored by Fran Kirby
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition Ref.
1 3 August 2014 Victoria Park, Hartlepool, England  Sweden 2–0 4–0 Friendly [60]
2 9 April 2015 Academy Stadium, Manchester, England  China 2–0 2–1 Friendly [60]
3 13 June 2015 Moncton Stadium, Moncton, Canada  Mexico 1–0 2–1 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup [60]
4 21 September 2015 A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia  Estonia 3–0 8–0 UEFA Women's Euro 2017 qualifying [60]
5 6–0 [60]
6 10 June 2017 Tissot Arena, Biel, Switzerland   Switzerland 2–0 4–0 Friendly [60]
7 23 July 2017 Rat Verlegh Stadion, Breda, Netherlands  Spain 1–0 2–0 UEFA Women's Euro 2017 [60]
8 24 November 2017 Bescot Stadium, Walsall, England  Bosnia and Herzegovina 4–0 4–0 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualification [60]
9 28 November 2017 Colchester Community Stadium, Colchester, England  Kazakhstan 2–0 5–0 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualification [60]
10 1 March 2018 Mapfre Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, United States  France 4–0 4–1 2018 SheBelieves Cup [60]
11 6 October 2018 Meadow Lane, Nottingham, England  Brazil 1–0 1–0 Friendly [60]
12 9 October 2018 Craven Cottage, London, England  Australia 1–0 1–1 Friendly [60]
13 6 July 2019 Allianz Riviera, Nice, France  Sweden 1–2 1–2 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup [61]
14 9 April 2021 Stade Michel d'Ornano, Caen, France  France 1–2 1–3 Friendly
15 23 February 2022 Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, England  Germany 3–1 3–1 2022 Arnold Clark Cup
16 15 July 2022 St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England  Northern Ireland 1–0 5–0 UEFA Women's Euro 2022 [62]
17 26 July 2022 Bramall Lane, Sheffield, England  Sweden 4–0 4–0 UEFA Women's Euro 2022 [63]

Honours[edit]

Chelsea

England

Individual

Records

Personal life[edit]

While growing up, Kirby was very close to her mother Denise.[84] At the age of 14, her mother passed away due to a brain haemorrhage. "I just could not comprehend what had happened. And it stayed like that for many years."[85] Away with England U17, she broke down because she "missed [her] mum". She returned home and dropped out of football. After her mother's death, she fell into a depression. "I'd have days where I wouldn't get out of bed. Or I wouldn't go to college. I could get as far as the bus stop, then I'd just break down crying." One day, one of her friends invited her to play with her amateur team, where she found her love for football again. Kirby says that her mother is still very important in her life. "Towards the end of the season where everything was great, ... I remember sitting on the coach back from the last game of the season and I just cried. ... I remember sitting next to the girls and I just said 'there's only one person who I wanna pick up the phone to and call, and I can't do that'."[86] "I think about her every day, but especially when things are going well, because I want to celebrate with her."[citation needed]

In October 2019, Kirby received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) from the University of Winchester for her "achievements both on and off the field, in particular her work supporting mental health and wellbeing."[87]

In February 2020, Chelsea revealed Kirby had successfully recovered from pericarditis, a potential career ending illness.[33] Kirby had fallen ill in November 2019 and came close to retiring from the game as a result.[34]

In April 2020, Kirby was named in Diva magazine's '"Visible Lesbian 100" list during Lesbian Visibility Week.[88]

In April 2022, Kirby revealed on Twitter that she had continued to succumb to an "on-going issue" throughout her career and wanted to "put [her] health first".[89] Emma Hayes, the manager of Chelsea Women, clarified during a press conference that Kirby had been "suffering a lot with fatigue", yet the cause for this is currently unknown.[90]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015: List of players: England" (PDF). FIFA. 6 July 2015. p. 10. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Women's World Cup 2019: Mapping England's Lionesses squad". BBC Sport. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  3. ^ "FIFA reveal nominees for The Best Awards 2021". MARCA. 22 November 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  4. ^ Laverty, Rich. "The 100 best female footballers in the world 2021". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Fran Kirby makes history in Chelsea win while City beat Gothenburg". The Guardian. 9 December 2020. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  6. ^ Kirby, Fran (4 June 2019). "The Puzzle". The Players Tribune. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Hamilton, Tom (4 June 2019). "The true grit of England's Fran Kirby". ESPN. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  8. ^ Malin, Angelica. "About Time You Met: Fran Kirby". About Time. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Interview with Chelsea and England star Fran Kirby". Berkshire Life. 28 June 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
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  18. ^ "Hat-Trick Heroine Kirby". FA WSL. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
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  32. ^ a b "Fran Kirby on her Chelsea FC Women absence". chelseafc.com. Chelsea FC. 17 February 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
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  35. ^ Sanders, Emma. "Chelsea 2–0 Man City in Women's Community Shield: Millie Bright stunner helps Blues win". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  36. ^ McElwee, Molly (9 December 2020). "Fran Kirby becomes Chelsea's record goalscorer in five-goal thrashing of Benfica". The Telegraph.
  37. ^ "Four-goal Kirby fires Chelsea to WSL win amid COVID chaos". The Times of India. Reuters. 10 January 2021. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
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  74. ^ Pasztor, David (25 May 2021). "Emma Hayes, Fran Kirby win 2020–21 WSL Manager, Player of the Season awards". SB Nation. Archived from the original on 25 May 2021.
  75. ^ "PFA WSL 1 Team of the Year: Five Chelsea Ladies players named". BBC Sport. 19 April 2018.
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  79. ^ "The winner of the PFA Vertu Motors WSL Fans' Player of the Month – September". 90min.com. 11 October 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
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  82. ^ "Chelsea Women's awards go to Erin Cuthbert and Sophie Ingle | Official Site | Chelsea Football Club". ChelseaFC. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  83. ^ "Fran Kirby named PFA Player of the Year | Official Site | Chelsea Football Club". ChelseaFC. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  84. ^ "It's OK not to be OK – Fran Kirby". youtube.com. WePlayStrong. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  85. ^ Kirby, Fran (4 June 2019). "The Puzzle". The Players' Tribune. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  86. ^ "England's Fran Kirby: 'It's OK not to be OK'". youtube.com. Players' Tribune Global. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  87. ^ "Fran Kirby presented with a Honorary Doctorate". Chelsea FC. Chelsea FC. 22 October 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  88. ^ "Visible Lesbian 100". Lesbian Visibility Week. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  89. ^ "@Fran Kirby". Twitter. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  90. ^ "Chelsea's Fran Kirby ruled out 'for foreseeable future' with fatigue problem". TheGuardian. 15 April 2022. Retrieved 16 April 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Aluko, Eniola (2019), They Don't Teach This, Random House, ISBN 9781473564480
  • Brown, Charlotte (2019), Kirby, John Blake ISBN 9781789461565
  • Caudwell, Jayne (2013), Women's Football in the UK: Continuing with Gender Analyses, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 9781317966234
  • Clarke, Gemma (2019), Soccerwomen: The Icons, Rebels, Stars, and Trailblazers Who Transformed the Beautiful Game, ISBN 9781568589206
  • Dunn, Carrie (2019), Pride of the Lionesses: The Changing Face of Women's Football in England, Pitch Publishing (Brighton) Limited, ISBN 9781785315411
  • Dunn, Carrie (2016), The Roar of the Lionesses: Women's Football in England, Pitch Publishing Limited, ISBN 9781785311512
  • Grainey, Timothy (2012), Beyond Bend It Like Beckham: The Global Phenomenon of Women's Soccer, University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803240368
  • Smith, Kelly (2012), Footballer: My Story, Transworld, ISBN 9781446488591
  • Stay, Shane (2019), The Women's World Cup 2019 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup, Books on Demand, ISBN 1782551921
  • Theivam, Keiran and Jeff Kassouf (2019), The Making of the Women's World Cup: Defining Stories from a Sport's Coming of Age, Little, ISBN 1472143310

External links[edit]