‘An incredible journey’: Fran Kirby to leave Chelsea at end of the season

‘An incredible journey’: Fran Kirby to leave Chelsea at end of the season

Fran Kirby has announced she will call time on her career at Chelsea at the end of the season. The 30-year-old England midfielder has helped the club to six WSL titles, five FA Cups and two League Cups since signing from Reading in 2015. She leaves the club as the all-time leading goalscorer with 115 goals in 205 appearances.

In an emotional interview on the club’s website, she said: “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.”

Kirby joined after standout performances for England in their third-place finish at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. In the 2017‑18 season, she won the inaugural Women’s Footballer of the Year award from the Football Writers’ Association after scoring 25 goals in 31 matches in all competitions. She also picked up the PFA Footballer of the Year award and was included in the PFA WSL Team of the year, two feats she repeated in the 2020-21 season.

The midfielder, with 19 goals in 70 international appearances, started every match as England secured their first international trophy, the European Championship, in 2022.

Last season’s campaign was halted by a knee injury that also ended her hopes of appearing in the 2023 World Cup, and Kirby saluted the support she received during that time. “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.”

Chelsea’s general manager, Paul Green, said: “Fran has been a hugely important player for us over the last nine years. She has played an integral role in the club’s success, winning 15 trophies and earning numerous individual accolades.

“She is the club’s leading goalscorer in the modern era and leaves Chelsea with legendary status. We sincerely thank Fran for her contributions and wish her well for the future.”

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The player has announced her imminent departure in a week when her coach, Emma Hayes, who leaves to join the USA national team this summer, conceded that “the title is done” after Wednesday’s thrilling 4-3 defeat at Liverpool.

Source: theguardian.com