Francesca Kirby (born 29 June 1993) is an English professional footballer who plays as a forward for Chelsea and the England national team. She began her career with her local team Reading before moving to Chelsea in July 2015. In August 2014, Kirby won her first senior cap for England. She represented her country at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and at the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.
Kirby playing for Chelsea in 2015
|Full name||Francesca Kirby|
|Date of birth||29 June 1993|
|Place of birth||Reading, England|
|Height||5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:03, 26 May 2019 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 19:45, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
Kirby joined her hometown club Reading at the age of seven and worked her way through the youth teams. She made her debut for the first team at the age of sixteen but quit football the following year after an onset of depression, brought about by the death of her mother. Kirby returned to the club in 2012 and went on to become the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division's top scorer for the 2012–13 season, with 32 goals in 21 appearances.
With Reading promoted to the newly formed Women's Super League 2 for 2014, Kirby helped the team achieve third place with 24 goals in sixteen appearances. She ended the season as the league's top goalscorer; netting four against London Bees, as well as hat-tricks against Durham, Watford and Doncaster Rovers Belles. Shortly after, she became the first female player to receive a professional contract from the club. At the 2014 FA Women's Awards, Kirby was named the inaugural WSL2 Players' Player of the Year.
Kirby continued her goalscoring form into the 2015 WSL2 season, taking 11 goals in five league appearances for Reading, including all four goals in a 4–2 away win against Yeovil Town and five goals in a 7–0 win against London Bees. Following the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, Reading accepted an undisclosed transfer fee from Chelsea and she completed a move in July 2015. It was reported that the fee of between £40,000 and £60,000 constituted a British record, although Chelsea denied this was the case and Kirby was not aware of the figure.
At the 2015 FA Women's Cup Final, staged at Wembley Stadium for the first time, Kirby was a cup-tied spectator for Chelsea's 1–0 win over Notts County. It was Chelsea's first major trophy. In October 2015, she scored twice in Chelsea's 4–0 win over Sunderland which secured the club's first FA WSL title; a league and cup double. The same month, Kirby scored Chelsea's first ever UEFA Women's Champions League goal in a 1–0 win over Glasgow City.
Kirby's form extended into the 2016 FA WSL season. In April, she secured Chelsea's return to Wembley Stadium by scoring a late, extra-time winner against Manchester City in the FA Women's Cup semi-final. Four days later, she scored both goals in Chelsea's 2–0 WSL win at Arsenal.
On 22 April 2018, Kirby was awarded the PFA Player's Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year for the 2017–18 season.
Early in her career, Kirby was a member of the England under-23 squad. She became the first WSL 2 player to be called up to the senior squad, in June 2014 for the World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Ukraine. She was named on the substitutes' bench against Belarus but did not make an appearance. She made her senior international debut against Sweden in August 2014, getting the second goal in a 4–0 friendly win at Victoria Park, Hartlepool.
In May 2015, England manager Mark Sampson named Kirby in his final squad for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, hosted in Canada. She scored in England's 2–1 win over Mexico and was hailed as "mini Messi" by Sampson. Although Kirby was disappointed to be ruled out by injury from the quarter-finals onwards, England's eventual third-place finish left her with a positive overall impression of the tournament: "a fantastic experience and one I won’t forget in a hurry."
Sampson kept Kirby in the national team for the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 qualifying campaign. In Estonia on 21 September 2015 she scored twice in England's 8–0 win. After "12 months of hell" caused by knee and ankle injuries, Kirby returned to England's line-up for UEFA Women's Euro 2017 in the Netherlands. In England's opening fixture against rivals Scotland, second striker Kirby's clever dummy sent Jodie Taylor through to score England's opening goal in a 6–0 rout. In the next match Kirby and Taylor scored in a 2–0 win over Spain, which secured England's place in the quarter-final. When England were thrashed 3–0 by the hosts in the semi-final, Kirby was rueful: "We had chances and could have had a few penalties. We are bitterly disappointed".
On 6 October 2018, Kirby scored in England's 1–0 friendly win over Brazil at Meadow Lane. In post-match interviews England coach Phil Neville breathlessly proclaimed Kirby's superiority to six-time World Player of the Year Marta: "I'd take my No 10 over Brazil's No 10, that's for sure".
- As of match played 25 May 2019
|Reading||2014||Women's Super League||0||0||4||4||—||4||4|
|Chelsea||2015||Women's Super League||5||4||3||3||4[a]||2||12||9|
- Appearances in the UEFA Women's Champions League
- As of match played 6 July 2019. England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Kirby goal.
- "FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015: List of players: England" (PDF). FIFA. 6 July 2015. p. 10. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
- "Women's World Cup 2019: Mapping England's Lionesses squad". BBC Sport. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- Hassan, Nabil (17 March 2015). "Fran Kirby: England & Reading forward on overcoming adversity". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- Kessel, Anna (27 December 2014). "England forward Fran Kirby aiming for greatness at women's World Cup". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- "Southern Division Player Stats 2012/13". The Football Association. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "WSL Player Stats". FA WSL. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "London Bees 1 – 9 Reading FC Women". FA WSL. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Reading FC Women 4 – 0 Durham Women FC". FA WSL. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Hat-Trick Heroine Kirby". FA WSL. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Stunning Reading Silence the Belles". FA WSL. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- Trehan, Dev (24 March 2015). "England striker Fran Kirby says Reading means 'everything' to her". Sky Sports. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Ji So-Yun named FA WSL 1 Players' Player of the Year". The Football Association. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Royals defeat Glovers to kick of 2015 Campaign". FA WSL. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "Royals take the sting out of the Bees in the Hive". FA WSL. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "Fran Kirby: Chelsea Ladies sign England striker from Reading". BBC Sport. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- "Fran Kirby: Chelsea striker 'does not know' her transfer fee". BBC Sport. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
- Aloia, Andrew (1 August 2015). "How Chelsea won the Women's FA Cup". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- Garry, Tom (4 October 2015). "WSL 1: Chelsea Ladies 4–0 Sunderland Ladies". BBC Sport. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
- Todd, Oliver (9 October 2015). "Chelsea Ladies 1–0 Glasgow City Ladies: Fran Kirby hits screamer to seal victory in Blues' Women's Champions League debut". Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- Piperdy, Hash (18 April 2016). "Kirby wants Wembley chance after firing Chelsea to Final". The Football Association. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- "Chelsea beat Arsenal with Kirby brace". BBC Sport. 21 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- "Fran Kirby named Football Writers' Women's Footballer of the Year". 24 April 2018 – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Mark Sampson announces 23-player squad for crunch qualifiers". The Football Association. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- Reid, James. "Ruthless England Women defeat Sweden in Hartlepool". The Football Association. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- Lavery, Glenn (11 May 2015). "England squad named for FIFA Women's World Cup". The Football Association. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Magowan, Alistair (14 June 2015). "Women's World Cup 2015: Kirby England's mini Messi – Sampson". BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Kirby: I couldn't have asked for any more". FIFA. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- "Danielle Carter hat-trick guides England to opening Euro 2017 qualifying win". The Guardian. 21 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
- "Euro 2017 qualifying: England thrash Estonia 8–0". BBC Sport. 21 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
- Pitt-Brooke, Jack (18 July 2018). "Fran Kirby looks to put 12 months of hell behind her and become England's 'mini Messi' once again". The Independent. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- Theivam, Kieran (19 July 2017). "Women's Euro 2017: 5 things we learned from England 6-0 Scotland". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- Edwards, Luke (24 July 2017). "England 2 Spain 0, Women's Euro 2017: Lionesses refuse to buckle as they advance towards quarter-finals". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- Garry, Tom (3 August 2017). "Women's Euro 2017 semi-final: FT: Netherlands 3-0 England". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- Wrack, Suzanne (6 October 2018). "Fran Kirby strikes early to seal narrow win for England Women over Brazil". The Observer. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- "Fran Kirby 2013 – Gold Medalist at World University Games Kazan, 2015 England forward, going for gold again". British Universities and Colleges Sport. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- Fran Kirby at Soccerway
- Karsdorp, Dirk (2018). The England Women's FC 1972 – 2018: The Lionesses – A Statistical Record. Soccer Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-86223-391-1.
- "Women's World Cup: England finish fourth after Sweden defeat". 6 July 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Match for third place - Match report" (PDF). FIFA. 4 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
- "England record statement win over Japan to clinch prestigious SheBelieves Cup". The Football Association. 5 March 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
- "Chelsea's Fran Kirby wins PFA Women's Player of the Year prize". Sky Sports. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
- "PFA WSL 1 Team of the Year: Five Chelsea Ladies players named". BBC Sport. 19 April 2018.
- "Fran Kirby named Football Writers' Association Women's Footballer of the Year". Sky Sports.