Fran Kirby has committed her long-term future to Chelsea Women, with the newly crowned PFA and FWA Women’s Player of the Year extending her stay with the Blues until 2021.
The new contract caps an incredible 12 months for one of the most recognisable faces in the women’s game, with the 24-year-old recovering from serious injury to play her part in three trophy successes, as well as sweeping the board in terms of individual honours over the past month.
Kirby, who played a pivotal role as we won the WSL1 title and FA Cup in 2017/18, said: ‘It's a massive step for me to commit to Chelsea, but one which I didn't hesitate to make. I've really enjoyed my time here – the staff have shown such faith in me and rewarding me with this new contract is amazing.
‘Other players have also signed new contracts recently and it shows what people want to achieve with Chelsea and how much we love it here. I've grown to love this club and there is a real sense of family here. That's why people want to stay. Everyone wants to win for this club – we all love each other in the dressing room.
‘At the beginning of the season I’d have never dreamed of achieving what I have done personally, that was never in my mind, I was only thinking about winning trophies with my team. My attitude doesn’t change. If you ask all the girls, they’ll tell you I’ll always give 100 per cent to win for my team. You can see in our celebrations how much everyone enjoys winning together and how important it is to us.’
Manager Emma Hayes added: ‘Fran is one of the best players in Europe at what she does. She's had a wonderful year in terms of both scoring and assisting, and her excellent work from the front, but she's got massive ambition to improve in the Champions League, as do I.
‘That's the next level for all of us – can we push ourselves to achieve more at that level? Fran is so hard working and I always tell people that you have to see just how much work she does behind the scenes.
‘To come back from injury and lead the way in terms of appearances and goals is something she deserves immense credit for. She got better and better as the season went on and she's going to keep improving. There's plenty more to come from her and we're going to see the best of her at Chelsea over the next three years.’
Kirby, who joined the club from Reading shortly after helping England finish third at the 2015 World Cup, has appeared in 63 matches for the Blues and scored a remarkable 47 times, with 25 of those coming in the season just gone.
One of those strikes came at Wembley in the Women’s FA Cup final against Arsenal to help us to the first part of a domestic Double and her eye-catching performances across the course of the season saw her honoured with awards from her peers, football writers and Blues fans.
You will be able to read an in-depth interview with Kirby, as she reflects on a wonderful season and looks ahead to the future, on this website tomorrow.