Tri­umphant re­turn as Fran Kirby in­spires Eng­land against Mex­ico

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Four years af­ter quit­ting soc­cer be­cause of se­vere de­pres­sion, Fran Kirby scored the opener that kept Eng­land’s hopes alive in a 2-1 win over Mex­ico at the Women’s World Cup.

Kirby, 21, scored in her first start at a ma­jor tour­na­ment af­ter leav­ing the sport fol­low­ing de­pres­sion trig­gered by her mother’s sud­den death.

The victory kept Eng­land’s hopes of ad­vanc­ing to the knock­out rounds in Canada alive af­ter los­ing their open­ing match to France 1-0, and sparked de­lighted cel­e­bra­tions among the Eng­land team.

Kirby, dubbed “Mini Messi” by coach Mark Samp­son, found the net af­ter 71 min­utes, shortly af­ter Karen Car­ney, who also scored with a late header, was in­tro­duced in front of the 13,000- per­son crowd at Monc­ton.

“It’s pretty in­cred­i­ble to be la­beled af­ter such a great foot­baller,” Kirby said of Barcelona su­per­star Lionel Messi.

The win puts Eng­land equal on three points with France, who were beaten 2-0 by Colom­bia ear­lier Satur­day, with the South Amer­i­cans lead­ing Group F on four points. Mex­ico have one point.

Kirby, who plays for her home­town team Read­ing, was the only player se­lected from the sec­ondtier of the English Women’s Su­per League for the World Cup.

She thanked the Eng­land coach for be­liev­ing in her.

“It’s re­ally great for me that he has that much faith in me as a player, and to put his trust in me to give me my first start is ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble,” Kirby said.

“And to get the goal, just to be able to re­pay Mark and the girls for how well they’ve treated me com­ing into the group.

“This time last year I prob­a­bly wasn’t even in and around it,” she said of the team.

“When I look back it was a dif­fi­cult pe­riod for me and my fam­ily, but we pulled through it all to­gether.

“It just mo­ti­vates me now more than any­thing. It’s some­thing that I’ve man­aged to get over and I use it as mo­ti­va­tion.”

Eng­land play Colom­bia Wed­nes­day in their fi­nal group game. The two top teams in each group and the four best third­place fin­ish­ers ad­vance to the knock­out round.

Mean­while, Eng­land’s 119-time capped cap­tain Casey Stoney was made an MBE (Mem­ber of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire) in Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s birth­day hon­ors an­nounced on Fri­day.

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