Fran Kirby named FWA Women's Footballer of the Year

Fran Kirby is the 2020/21 FWA Footballer of the Year
Fran Kirby is the 2020/21 FWA Footballer of the Year / Visionhaus/Getty Images

Chelsea star Fran Kirby has been named the FWA Women's Footballer of the Year, picking up the prize for the second time in four years.

The inaugural recipient of the award in 2018, Kirby has been on an entirely different level this season. The 27-year-old has racked up 25 goals and 18 assists in all competitions so far this season, steering Chelsea to the WSL title and a maiden Champions League final.

In 2019/20, Kirby battled pericarditis, a heart infection which had some specialists questioning whether she would ever play again, but she has fought her way back and has looked better than ever this campaign.

"It's really special," she told the FWA. "When I started off this year, I didn't have any expectations to win awards like these. It's really special and it's something I'm really proud of.

"I had no expectations of how my year would go. I remember speaking to the coach, to Emma [Hayes], and saying 'I just want to get on the pitch'. I put in a lot of work behind the scenes, not just in pre-season or in training, but going home and doing extra sessions. I was just so motivated to come back in a good way.

Fran Kirby, Bethany England
Kirby has been one of the stars of Chelsea's illustrious season / Visionhaus/Getty Images

"In those two years, the team had won trophies and signed incredible players. I didn't want to come back in and be someone that the team has to carry. I didn't want to be the player that brings the team down. That was the pressure I put on myself.

"It was difficult to start from scratch. I had no fitness, I hadn't kicked a football in six months. That was the hardest part, trying to build my level back up."

Always one to turn the attention on to her team-mates, Kirby could not resist the chance to praise her fellow Blues for pushing her to become the best player she can be after such a difficult period in her life.

"You never get to win these awards without the players that you play with, the staff, and for me, I've just seen a different mindset from everyone, myself included," she said. "It's a really confident group, and I think that's been the biggest difference, the drive from every player.

"I think everyone here knows that I play for this team, I play for every single person who walks in here every day, and I think I show that in my performances. I will run through a brick wall for these girls and all the staff.

"I'm really humbled to win these awards, but I know that I would never be able to achieve anything without them."

Kirby's Chelsea face Barcelona in the Women's Champions League final on Sunday, May 16 - which you can watch live on BT Sport 2 from 7.15pm.

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