An ode to Fran Kirby: Chelsea’s all-time top scorer calls time with the Blues

Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring Chelsea's sixth goal during the Women's Super League football match vs Manchester United
Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring Chelsea's sixth goal during the Women's Super League football match vs Manchester United at Old Trafford on May 18, 2024. (Photo by DARREN STAPLES/AFP via Getty Images)

After an incredible nine years with Chelsea, Fran Kirby announced her time with from the Blues has come to an end. The 30-year-old forward has played a big part in helping the team lift seven Women’s Super League titles, five FA cups, and two League Cups.

Kirby has netted 115 goals throughout her 205 appearances, making her Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer.

The England international made her debut for Chelsea in 2015 against Birmingham City. Instantly, Kirby made an impact for the Blues, as she scored her first goal with a gratifying chip. This was just the start of an incredible season as her attacking techniques and skills helped Chelsea the secure the 2015 WSL title.

Kirby’s time at Chelsea

In just her first season with the Blues, Kirby made history by scoring the club’s first Champions League goal against Glasgow City. She maintained her impeccable form throughout the 2016 season with Chelsea, as she stormed through the term.

A remarkable goal from Kirby in the last minute was what pushed Chelsea into the FA Cup final. She continued to net goals as she scored another two against Liverpool at home in Wheatsheaf Park.

Her last goal of the season against Sunderland was yet another winner for the Blues. Unfortunately for the attacker, her season was cut short after this game due to suffering a serious knee injury.

After injury kept Kirby out for the beginning of the 2017 season, she launched a huge comeback upon her return. She came off the bench against Sunderland and scored two stunning goals with her trademark finishes, leading to a 7-0 victory. Within this season, Kirby only started twice and came off the bench in three matches, but still scored six times. She ended the season as the top goalscorer of the Spring Series.

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Rising into the spotlight

Kirby’s sublime form was noticed in the 2017/18 season as she earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year and the Champions League Squad of the Season. There were many other honours Kirby collected that season — she picked up the first PFA and FWA Women’s Player of the Year awards, and was named Chelsea Ladies’ Player of the Year, and their Players’ Player of the year.

In October 2019, Kirby made her 100th appearance for the Blues during a win against West Ham. However in November, she was diagnosed with the rare health condition pericarditis, an inflammation around the heart which causes chest pain. Despite being out for 16 months, she battled back to fitness and retuned to the pitch as strong as ever.

Throughout the 2020/21 campaign, Kirby scored 25 goals in all competitions. Once again, her excellent performances were recognised as she added another three individual honours to her name.

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Despite her ongoing health conditions, Kirby continued to inspire with her hard work to regain fitness and earn her place back in the squad.

From season to season, Kirby was a constant threat when she held the ball near the goal, whether it was in the League or a Cup game. Within her nine years at Chelsea, she has had many magical moments, from her show-stopping goal away to Bayern Munich in the 2017/18 Champions League, to her 100th goal against Birmingham City in 2021/22.

A ‘True Blue’ is how many Chelsea fans and players describe Kirby. As we say a special farewell to the Chelsea treasure, we wish her the best in her next chapter.

Fran Kirby’s lasting impact

Just like the impact she has had on Chelsea, England and women’s football in general, she has also had an impact on me. I have always admired Fran Kirby, not just as a player, but as a person. Since I was a young girl, I grew up watching football, especially Chelsea and England. From the moment I started watching, I always loved seeing her name on the teamsheet.

Despite her health battles and injuries, she’s continued to showcase how strong you can be when you put your mind to something and believe.

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Outside of football, she has opened up about battles with body images and mental health. Speaking out about these topics represents a strong woman and a role model to others. Especially those who look up to someone who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable about her feelings. Her strength helps others feel as though they aren’t alone.

As sad as I, as well as many fans are to see Fran Kirby leave Chelsea, we want to say the biggest thank you to the trailblazer for all the amazing contributions she has made to help Chelsea get to where they are now.

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