England ladies star Fran Kirby has signed a three year contract with Chelsea ladies, moving from Reading ladies for a British record transfer fee. After a strong showing at the World Cup, the 22 year old striker will link up once again with England team mates Eniola Aluko, Claire Rafferty and Katie Chapman. She joins the unbeaten WSL 1 leaders for an undisclosed fee, which Reading ladies have announced will allow them to continue "progressing in their current manner".
Fran Kirby joined Reading at the age of 8 and worked her way through the youth teams. At the age of 16 she made her début with the first team, but quit #Football altogether the next year due to depression - which came on after her mother passed away. Kirby told the BBC that she pushed herself to get back into the game because it was what her mum would have wanted: "She wanted me to be a professional footballer and one day it just snapped in my head and I thought, "you're going have to get yourself back playing'."
Kirby's return to the game in 2012 was an instant success. In her first season back she scored 32 goals in 21 appearances in the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division, at the time the third tier of English women's football. Fran Kirby's goals helped drive the team to first place in the league, which earned the team a spot in the newly-formed WSL 2 in 2014.
Kirby's form continued into the WSL 2, scoring 24 goals in 16 appearances, winning the WSL 2 Player's Player of the Year. This form gained her a call up to the England side in June 2014, making her the first WSL 2 player to be called up to the England side, but she did not play in any games. She was called up again in August 2014, scoring on her début in a 4-0 win over Sweden.
Fran Kirby has started this season in blistering form, scoring 9 goals in the first two games. 4 in the first game of the season against Yeovil Town and 5 in the second against the London Bees. Kirby helped drive the side to the top of the table before the break for the FIFA Women's World Cup, where she scored England's first goal of the tournament after coming on as a substitute against Mexico. After earning the tag "Mini-Messi", Fran Kirby started the games with Columbia and Norway before dropping back to the bench for the Canada, Japan and Germany games.
After starting the break as a Reading player, she will be lining up in the blue of Chelsea against Bristol Academy when the WSL fixtures take place on Sunday. Kirby told the Chelsea website: "Chelsea is one of the best clubs in the world and now is a really good time for me to step up in my career." Manager Emma Hayes added "We're delighted we've been able to get Fran on board, she is a very exciting young talent and I think she can go on to become a Chelsea great. Our aim is to win trophies here and Fran can play a major part in that for years to come."