If Chelsea Ladies win their first-ever Champions League crown on Sunday, will probably be thanks to 1 individual as a lot as every other: Fran Kirby.
With 25 targets in 29 matches this season, it’s no surprise she was in comparison with males’s celebrity Lionel Messi by former England Ladies’s coach Mark Sampson.
However the Chelsea heroine, simply named FWA Participant of the Season, has her personal distinctive story forward of this weekend’s enormous closing.
Kirby is the membership’s all-time main goalscorer after six years in west London, profitable every little thing in sight, besides Europe’s elite competitors.
Like Blues supervisor Emma Hayes, victory over Barcelona on Sunday evening, dwell on talkSPORT, would cement her place in Chelsea’s historical past books.
She’s the joint prime scorer within the Ladies’s Champions League this season, in what must be thought of her greatest marketing campaign on the membership to date – however lower than a 12 months in the past, there have been fears she could by no means play once more.
Between November 2019 and August 2020, Kirby didn’t play a single minute as a consequence of pericarditis.
And for former Chelsea teammate Eni Aluko, Kirby is an inspiration in her personal proper.
Aluko advised talksSPORT.com: “I’m an enormous fan of Fran Kirby. I bear in mind again in 2015 when Fran signed and all people needed her signature.
“She was taking part in within the league beneath for Studying and had received within the England workforce and scored for England being within the league beneath.
“And I used to be like ‘this lady is a celebrity’. I bear in mind being on the England camp and pondering ‘I’m simply going to ask her if she’s all for coming to Chelsea’.
“She sort of sheepishly mentioned ‘Yeah, yeah it’s going to occur’. I used to be so completely satisfied as I received the prospect to play with one other nice participant and we received higher and stronger.
“Since then, she’s been so constant. Clearly handled plenty of accidents and sickness, however has been so constant in her impression on the Chelsea workforce by way of her goalscoring and assists.
“For me, Fran has been the distinction. When she hasn’t performed, others have stepped up like Beth England and credit score to them, however what makes this partnership with Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr so highly effective is Fran Kirby’s versatility, her contributions, her assists and targets and her ardour for her workforce.”
On Kirby being labelled ‘mini-Messi’, Aluko mentioned: “Generally comparisons generally is a bit lazy. It’s an enormous praise to be named in the identical breath as Messi, however Fran Kirby is Fran Kirby. Her story is exclusive. Her journey is exclusive and her journey is inspiring.
“Even Messi doesn’t have that sort of story essentially. Fran is Fran and I’m an enormous fan and he or she’s a good friend of mine and love for her to do effectively.”
Offered by Faye Carruthers, with commentary from Sam Matterface, Fara Williams and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, the 2021 Ladies’s Champions League closing is dwell on talkSPORT from 8pm on Might 16