Chelsea legend Fran Kirby has delivered a heartfelt message to Blues supporters after it was confirmed she would leave the club at the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

Following her signing from Reading in 2015 for a then-British record transfer fee, few players have made as big an impact in the rise of Chelsea Women as Kirby.

She has won 14 trophies during her nine years with the Blues, made more than 200 appearances for the club, and has become our record goalscorer in the modern era.

Kirby will leave a lasting legacy at Stamford Bridge and has forged an unbreakable bond with a generation of Chelsea supporters. And she has addressed Blues fans following the news of her impending exit.

'When I joined I was quite young, quite inexperienced. And yeah I had no idea of what was to come and where the club would go, the people I would meet along the way. It has been amazing and its something I’ve been so grateful for just to be here.

‘Like I say, the people that I’ve met, I’ve made friendships for life, memories for life. And it’s something that when you get older, you’re telling people you used to do this. These will be some of the happiest memories of my life to talk about.

‘I was terrified when I first came in. There were so many legends sitting around in the changing room and I was this young girl coming in from Reading who didn’t have much experience on the big stage.

'I was super excited, but super nervous at the same time. Straight away though I just kind of fitted in. I felt at ease here and that the players were amazing. They all made me feel settled, they all made me feel so calm.

‘I joined the team a little bit injured from the World Cup, so I missed the games coming in. I was gutted about that I just wanted to get out on the pitch to show the fans what I could do.

‘So being able to come in and score on my debut…I still remember just running through and thinking, "Don’t miss, don’t miss". I was able to put it in the back of the net and feel that cheer for the first time for me. I think I will never, ever forget that.

'I always wanted to win growing up, so coming to a club that shared that ambition was something that I valued. That is one of the main reasons I joined the club. I believe the club could help me do that.

'To leave with the trophies that I have won, with the teammates I’ve played with – some of the world’s best players – it has been one of the biggest privileges of my life.

‘Winning trophies has been amazing, but playing with the people I’ve met has been pretty incredible. For a young girl from Reading, it's not too bad.

‘Growing up I always wanted to be the best and win. That was just an inner drive in myself, I didn’t need the accolades, I just wanted to win. I wanted to keep pushing myself to them limits.

‘I still have that now. For me the personal accolades are a bonus on top of what we were already achieving.

‘Everything that I’ve won – whether a team trophy or personal trophy – or a goal, it’s always down to everyone else’s work that goes on.

‘Maybe sometimes people don’t get the recognition they deserve and for me, I will never forget any player I’ve played with that has contributed to any success. I’m fully aware that everything else I’ve achieved is because of others in the team and the people around me.

‘It’s interesting. I can sit here and say I’ve had the most amazing times as a Chelsea player, but I’ve also had some of the hardest times of my life. Not just in my football career.

'Always for me when I’ve gone through something like that, I’ve wanted to come back in a way that people are proud of. 'They can see that no matter what happens, I’m always going to get back up and try and fight for my teammates.

‘The support I’ve had has been unmatched. When I had my illness, my injuries, that’s when I’ve made some friends for life. I will never forget that no matter how bad I felt during those moments, I always felt loved and supported.

‘For me, I was just a young girl who loved football. And it still is that now. I’m a bit older now, but still someone who just loves to play football.

‘Part of my job is to play well, win trophies and football games. If I can do that and inspire young girls to be footballers or any form of athlete. That is enough for me.

‘Growing up I never thought I could impact it so much. So I’m really proud I have been able to impact in a positive way and doing that for a club like Chelsea is something I’m really proud of.

‘Hopefully, I leave the club in a better place than when I first came in. For me then, the job is done.

‘I think obviously the club has grown since I first joined, in terms of fans and engagements.

‘To have been there from the beginning at Staines, playing in front of an amazing crowd there and now to Stamford Bridge. We’re selling out the Bridge. It’s been an incredible journey with all of you.

‘Thank you for embracing me from day one. Helping me overcome some really difficult times and also sharing some amazing times with me. I will never forget how it felt to play in front of all of you.

'I hope I have left the club and the shirt in a place where you all can be proud of me.'