Chelsea forward Fran Kirby has been named the Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of the Year for the second time in her career.
Kirby, 27, played a starring role as Chelsea secured a second successive Women’s Super League title, scoring 16 goals, while also contributing 11 assists.
The England forward has also spearheaded Chelsea’s path to a first Women’s Champions League final, sitting as the competition’s joint top scorer with six goals going into Sunday’s clash with Barcelona.
“It’s really special,” Kirby told Sky Sports News after adding to her 2017/18 award.
“I think everyone in this building 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 and I think everyone can see that, and I’m really, really humbled to win these awards and it’s amazing, but I know that I would never be able to achieve anything that I’ve achieved without them.”
Kirby’s stunning season followed a near year-long absence with a viral illness that threatened to end her career.
In November 2019 she was diagnosed with pericarditis – relating to swelling around her heart – and returned to action at the start of the 2020/21 campaign with limited expectations.
“For me at the beginning of the year I had no expectations of how my year was going to go,” Kirby said.
“I remember speaking to people and just saying, ‘I just want to get on the pitch, whether it’s for five minutes, whether it’s for 10 minutes’. I had no idea how my year was going to pan out.
“I was so motivated to come back and to be able to come back in a good way for my team-mates. I didn’t want to come back in and be someone that the team has to carry.
“It was difficult to have to start from scratch. I had no fitness level, I hadn’t kicked a football in six months, so I think for me that was the hardest part.”