Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018: Fran Kirby, Chelsea

Kirby began her career with hometown side Reading for whom she made her debut aged 16. Her breakout season was in 2014 with The Royals in the Women’s Super League 2 (WSL 2), Kirby netted 24 goals in only 16 appearances, finishing the season as the league’s top goalscorer.

This superb form saw Kirby become the first WSL 2 player to represent England. The following season Kirby played in the 2015 World Cup helping England to a bronze medal at the tournament.

After the World Cup Kirby was transferred to Chelsea and continued her fine goalscoring form for the Blues, including an extra-time winner against Manchester City in the 2016 Women’s FA Cup semi-final and both goals in the final against Arsenal.

(Fran Kirby celebrates Chelsea’s 2018 FA Cup victory – John Walton/EMPICS Sport)

The 2017-18 season was again a fine one for Kirby with the forward scoring 25 goals in 36 matches, including another FA Cup final goal.

This phenomenal season was the inaugural year for the Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of the Year award and Kirby was elected the first winner, alongside her PFA award and the League and Cup Double for Chelsea.

What Fran said:

“It’s a really proud moment for me to be the first recipient of this award, one that I am not taking lightly at all. I am very privileged to be here to collect this award among some great nominees and obviously for the first time to have a female award is amazing.

(Fran Kirby in action for England at the 2019 Women’s World Cup – Richard Sellers/PA Archive)

“It has been a bit of a crazy year for me, at the start you never dream of being able get as many awards as I have done and obviously winning the FA Cup has been the icing on the top and hopefully we win the league as well and that’s the most important thing.

“It is quite surreal for me to be considered a role model, I am just Fran Kirby who grew up playing football in the park with the boys from school, and it is just something I have grown up doing all my life. But if I am able to be a role model for younger girls coming through and showing them that you can get there eventually and that if you work hard and are dedicated you will get rewards for it and win trophies with your team.

“So as long as I can keep doing the right thing, keep pushing people in the right direction and having fun while I’m doing it then I love to be called a role model.”

What the writers said: