Dubbed England’s mini-Messi, Fran Kirby is tipped to be one of the standout stars in France. Her creative flair, and near-unrivalled ability to find the back of the net, could make all the difference to the England Women’s team in their bid to bring home their first World Cup trophy.
But while Fran Kirby might be the quintessential professional, her journey to the summit of the game has been far from straightforward.
At the age of 17, Kirby had quit football completely, and, due to debilitating depression and anxiety, was struggling to function. Having joined Reading at just 7 years old, Kirby stood out for her ability and skill in the mixed junior team. But, in 2008, her world was upended when her mother, a driving force in her football career, suddenly passed away. As a result of the devastating loss, Kirby’s passion for the game dwindled, and three years later she would temporarily turn her back on the sport.
It took 12 months of working on herself for Fran to feel ready to lace up her boots again. Making a tentative return to a Sunday League team, she fell in love with playing football once more, and had re-joined Reading by the age of 19. In the 42 games she played for the Royals, Kirby scored 68 goals, cementing herself as a club legend, and becoming their first professional female player.
After being called up to the England squad for the 2015 World Cup, her career really began to flourish. Following a bronze finish in that tournament, Kirby signed for Chelsea, where she’s since won 2 WSL’s, 1 FA Cup and a WSL spring series. In the 2017-18 season, she added 3 new accolades to her list: The PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year, the FWA Women’s Player of the year and being named in the PFA WSL 1 Team of the Year.
Alongside her football career, Fran Kirby has been an outspoken advocate for better mental health awareness. She aims to inspire others to open up and help to dispel the stigma by sharing her own personal experience with grief, depression and anxiety. Her hope is that everybody realises that “it’s ok not to be ok.”
The COPA90 Icons collection means you can now inspire the next generation of sportsmen and women by wearing an iconic footballer on your back in the form of a beautiful illustration. Show your support for the England number 10 with the Fran Kirby Icon t-shirt.