Indeed, you only need to go to one of Kirby’s games for Chelsea or the England Lionesses to witness a sight that will leave you somewhat dewy-eyed. The moment in question comes when Kirby gets the ball which is followed by an expectant hush that falls upon the ground. Once Kirby has the ball under control, there is a momentary look up before she puts her head down and begins the journey towards the opposition’s goals. It is a thrilling sight as with every defender that Kirby leaves on the floor, the decibels of the captivated crowd go up sharply. Indeed, at this stage, you’ll witness men and women off their seats as the euphoria of watching someone exceptionally talented rips through the stadium.
Six years ago today, @FranKirby netted her first goal as a Blue! 👏
…and the rest is history! 💙 pic.twitter.com/8NZBZWoD1U
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) August 9, 2021
Kirby is simply the best advert for women’s football that there has ever been and her success at the highest level backs that up. In fact, Kirby and her Chelsea team are tipped to win the English FA Women’s Super League this season having been priced at 10/11 in the latest football betting, which suggests that there won’t be any slowing down for this international superstar.
Although that is exactly what Kirby’s doctor told her to do or face retiring after the forward was diagnosed with pericarditis at the back end of 2019.
It was a frightening time for Kirby even if the prognosis is generally quite good in terms of getting back on one’s feet. In other words, it wasn’t a catastrophic injury but if you’re a footballer, it does ring alarm bells that are very loud and disconcerting. Indeed, when you’re a footballer who makes a living out of sprinting down the wing, the stakes are at an all-time high when the doctor confirms pericarditis.
This sudden diagnosis wasn’t the first hurdle in Kirby’s career that was put in her way after the striker had quit football only years earlier to try and come to terms with her mother’s sudden and tragic passing. Kirby was eventually able to find the strength to carry on in the public eye which perhaps gave her the necessary tools to return to the field of play after the pericarditis setback.
Chelsea and England star Fran Kirby spent nine months on the sidelines this year when she was diagnosed with a heart condition called pericarditis.
Today, she scored her first league goal since May 2019 💙 pic.twitter.com/iDlz2lPR2w
— Goal (@goal) September 13, 2020
Mercifully, after months on the sideline, the diminutive forward was able to make a stirring comeback and reached the remarkable milestone of 50 caps for her country when the Lionesses beat Latvia 10-0 in a World Cup qualifier in October 2021.
It is perhaps a bit easier to see why one gets slightly emotional when they see Kirby flying down the wing for club or country, given what she has had to go through to be there. One can only conclude that Fran Kirby’s fight to stay at the top after such difficulty off the pitch makes her not only the greatest role model in women’s football but the whole of football itself.