Fran Kirby

Date of birth: 29/06/1993
Place of birth: Reading
Position: Striker
International levels played at: England Under-23, England senior
Trophies won at Chelsea: FA WSL title 2015, FA WSL Spring Series 2017

 

Fran Kirby was a mid-season signing from Reading in July 2015 and she played a significant role as Chelsea Ladies secured the FA WSL title.

A technically-gifted striker, she came through the ranks at Reading, her hometown club, and made her first-team debut at the age of 16.

She enjoyed a hugely impressive 2014 campaign for the Royals, finishing as the division’s top scorer with 29 as they recorded a third-place finish in FA WSL 2.

Shortly before making the switch to Chelsea, Kirby was part of the England squad which finished third at the World Cup in Canada, a tournament in which she scored the Lionesses opening goal in a 2-1 win over Mexico.

Kirby came off the bench to make her debut for the Blues against Birmingham, and her impact was immediate as she scored with a delightful chip to get off to the perfect start.

Though she missed our Women’s FA Cup final win over Notts County due to the fact she’d already played in the competition for Reading, her attacking quality and ability to score vital goals played a huge part in the team eventually securing the FA WSL title.

In the game which clinched the trophy, a 4-0 win at home to Sunderland, she netted a magnificent strike, curling a left-footed effort into the top corner from outside the penalty area.

Kirby also scored the first Champions League goal in the club’s history, a sweet strike against Glasgow City, and she was also on target in the second leg against the same opposition.

She carried on where she left off when the 2016 campaign began, netting a memorable winner in the last minute of extra-time against Manchester City Women to book a second-straight trip to Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup final. That was followed by a clinical brace at Arsenal and another two in front of 2,406 fans at Wheatsheaf Park against Liverpool, the first of which won the club’s Goal of the Season award.

Injury was a factor again at the start of 2017, ruling her out of our Women’s FA Cup campaign and the opening three matches of the Spring Series. What followed from there, however, was the stuff of dreams for any centre-forward.

Kirby came off the bench against Sunderland to put the seal on a 7-0 victory with two trademark finishes when through on goal, showing everyone exactly what type of threat the side had been lacking in her absence. Further strikes followed against Liverpool, Bristol City (twice) and Birmingham on the final day; remarkably, having started just twice and come on in three matches, she had netted six times to finish as the top scorer of the Spring Series. The time between her goals was only 40 minutes.

As a result, she went into the European Championship in the best possible form. Featuring in four of England’s five matches on the way to the semi-finals, she netted her only goal of the tournament with less than two minutes on the clock in a group stage win over Spain.


However, her winner against Sunderland before the mid-season break turned out to be her last notable contribution of the year, as a serious knee injury picked up while on England duty sidelined her until the closing weeks.