Kirby named players’ number one

Fran Kirby has been announced as the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year.

As soon as Chelsea Ladies’ Champions League game against Wolfsburg was completed, the 24-year-old made the journey from Kingsmeadow to the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London, along with six of her team-mates who were also award nominees, and there it was announced that Kirby had been voted by her peers the best player of the past year, with Ji So-Yun in second place and Maren Mjelde third. 

During that time she was the league’s top scorer as Chelsea Ladies won the WSL Spring Series and she has taken that good form on into the current season with 22 goals scored so far, most recently the two against Manchester City which took the Blues to another Women’s FA Cup final.

Kirby was also part of the England attack at the European Championships last summer and it was in an England game in November that she netted her 100th senior career goal.

On collecting the award, Kirby said: ‘It is very humbling for me. I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who voted for me, it is great that people don’t mind me scoring against them once in a while!

‘I am really happy to win this award and thank you to my team-mates who have enabled me to be in this position. Coming back off a long-term injury, the main thing was to play as much as I could and I have done that and I want to win as much as I can with Chelsea and hopefully with England as well.’

Speaking about Kirby and this award, Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes said: ‘Fran is back to her best level after suffering a terrible injury and she deserves credit for the work she's done behind the scenes, when no one is looking, the determination she has shown to get her to this place.

‘She's shown the quality of her finishing, which we all knew about her, but people need to credit the amount of running she does off the ball, especially with the schedule we've had. As far as I'm concerned she's the best English attacking player in the country – and by a country mile.’

Also nominated for Women’s Players’ Player in addition to Kirby, Ji and Mjelde were Ramona Bachmann and Millie Bright, with Man City’s Jill Scott the only non-Chelsea player in the running. Erin Cuthbert was nominated for PFA Women's Young Player of the Year, an award won by Lauren Hemp of Bristol City Women.

In the PFA WSL1 Team of the Year revealed on Thursday were Bright, Mjelde, Ji, Kirby and Hannah Blundell. 

The PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year award was introduced in 2013 with Ji the winner in 2015.

Marcos Alonso's selection the PFA Premier League Team of the Year was revealed on Wednesday. It was Alonso who was invited on stage on Sunday night to announce Kirby's award.