Chelsea forward Fran Kirby has been named Barclays WSL player of the season for 2020/21, while Blues boss Emma Hayes has scooped the manager of the season award.
Chelsea finished the season as WSL champions for the fourth time in the last six years, holding off stiff competition from Manchester City, with Kirby in particular back to her best form after overcoming a career threatening heart illness that had wrecked her 2019/20 campaign.
Kirby was one of only two players in the WSL to reach double figures in both goals and assists, scoring 16 times and laying on 11 for her teammates She jointly led the league in the latter and her partnership with Sam Kerr proved to be particularly devasting for WSL defences
By her own admission, just being able to play again following her illness has been the most important thing, so actually being named the WSL’s best player is a surprise to her.
“I was quite shocked to win this one, it’s been a really good season for all of us, so for me to win this is really special,” Kirby said, via ChelseaFC.com.
“I went into the season thinking let’s just see what happens. For me being on the pitch and to be able to enjoy it again, that means more to me than anything else.”
Hayes is credited with having created a dynasty at Chelsea. The club was not a power player in women’s football when she was appointed in 2012 but her impact had transformed the Blues into one of the most recognisable women’s clubs in the world.
“I do what I do because I love it, not because I want awards for it. But of course, I’m proud when I’m nominated for these things,” the boss explained.
“It’s a team sport so I almost cringe a little bit, but this is for all my team behind the scenes, for Paul Green, Stuart Searle and Denise Reddy and the rest of the team that you might not always see. This is for all the hours of hard work they all put in to get us to the top.”