Just over a year on from an infection that threatened to end her career, Chelsea midfielder Fran Kirby scored twice as her side were crowned Women’s Super League champions thanks in no small part to her incredible resurgence.
Chelsea retained their league crown with a 5-0 thrashing of Reading of the final day of the season.
“I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve loved playing football again, I’ve loved being part of this team, I’ve found a new love for it and this is really special,” Kirby told BT Sport.
In February 2020 after she had been out of the team for several months, the club revealed that the 27-year-old was suffering from pericarditis, an inflammation of the fibrous sac surrounding the heart. Kirby worried that she might never return.
“I got to the stage where I felt like I didn’t know how it was to feel normal... I remember having numerous conversations and thinking, I can’t do this anymore,” she told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Not only did she return, she came back and performed better than ever.
In a star-studded attack, Kirby was the driving force in a season where Chelsea won the Community Shield, the Continental Cup and the WSL.
In all, Kirby netted a career-best 16 goals in the league but it is her ability to make space for the likes of Sam Kerr, Bethany England and Pernille Harder that has made her so valuable and her team’s attack so potent.
“The character in this team is incredible - one goal is not enough, we want to go and score again and again. We pride ourselves on scoring goals, but we also keep clean sheets,” Kirby told BT Sport.
Kirby and Chelsea can round off a remarkable season by overcoming Barcelona in the Champions League final in Gothenburg, Sweden next Sunday.
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