Chelsea FC Women forward Fran Kirby has signed a contract extension to keep her at the Blues until the summer of 2023, with the club having an option to extend for a further 12 months.
Widely regarded as one of the best talents in women’s football, Kirby has been an integral part of the Chelsea squad since joining from Reading in 2015.
The No.14 has been in scintillating form for Chelsea this season, scoring 15 times in 21 appearances and helping us to the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.
‘I’ve been a part of this club for a very long time, and it didn’t take much thought,’ Kirby said. ‘I knew where I wanted to be, and I think you could see that in my performances.
‘I was really trying to prove to myself, to the fans who haven’t been able to watch me for a long time and to the club. It was a no-brainer for me that I wanted to stay in this environment.
‘I really wanted to work and prove that I was worthy of a new contract. I’ve spent a lot of time out ill and I remember speaking to Emma [Hayes] at the start of the year and I said I didn’t want anything given to me, I wanted to earn my spot to play, I wanted to earn my spot to be involved with this team and stay in this team.
‘That’s been a massive goal of mine this season and I want to keep doing that. I’ve signed a new contract, but I want to make sure that I keep pushing myself every day and as long as I keep doing that, I know that I’ll be in a good place.’
General manager Paul Green added: ‘We are delighted to extend Fran’s deal. She’s been an important player for us during her time at the club and has been integral in the club’s success.
‘Fran is coming into the peak of her career and I think we’ve seen that this season, with her playing some of the best football of her career.
‘She has seen the club grow over the last six years and is excited for what the club can achieve in the future.
‘We look forward to seeing Fran help the club achieve more success in the upcoming years.’
After a difficult period for Kirby following an illness which kept her out for several months, the striker is now reaping the benefits of all the hard work she has put in behind the scenes.
Kirby believes she is currently playing the best football of her career and you would struggle to find anyone who would disagree with the England international.
She said: ‘I’ve been able to take my game to another level this year. Everyone sees the end product, but no one sees what goes on behind closed doors.
‘You are out running every day, or you are in the gym and obviously for me it was a lot of isolation training because it was during lockdown and trying to motivate myself every day to go out.
‘I still think I have more to give. I’m always critical of my own performance and I’m always going to pick out things that I really want to improve on.
‘At the moment I’m in a really good place and playing the best football I ever have done and I’m just glad I’m able to be a part of this team and able to show all the hard work that I’ve put in.’
Kirby has given Blues fans many moments of brilliance, drawing praise for her technical ability, work ethic and capability to produce stand-out performances when deployed in any position across the Blues frontline.
A spectacular goal on the Wembley stage helped Chelsea secure a 3-1 victory in the 2018 FA Cup final, while a precious away goal from Kirby proved the difference on a dramatic night as the Blues advanced to the last 16 of the Women’s Champions League in 2017.
Those occasions have gone down as two of the greatest days in Chelsea Women’s history, and the 27-year-old says the current squad has a real ‘hunger’ and ‘drive’ to create more history, with Champions League success a real possibility, for a team Kirby believes is the strongest she’s ever been a part of.
She said: ‘It’s something that we said at the beginning of the season that we wanted to achieve this year.
‘We’ve got to two semi-finals now and we’ve always fell that little bit short. The way that we have mentally prepared for this year, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before.
‘The hunger and the drive to win every single day, and the passion, that’s only going to help us.
‘You saw it in the game against Atletico Madrid, we went a player down after 10 minutes, and we worked extremely hard and we still had that mentality of "it’s fine, we can deal with it and still get this win".
‘That’s something really special to have and this team has crazy amounts of it. I think that one [the Champions League] is the one we all want to win but we also know that we have to win every game.
‘We have to win every game to get to that final and you need to keep a good momentum.
‘We will take it each day at a time but that is something that every footballer wants to win so it’s always in the back of your mind.’