Kirby thank­ful for Eng­land help af­ter re­cov­er­ing from ca­reer-threat­en­ing virus

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Total Football - By Luke Ed­wards

Fran Kirby has praised the Eng­land set-up for valu­ing her as a per­son rather than just a player dur­ing her come­back from the virus that left her un­able to run.

Kirby re­turned to the Eng­land squad last week for a train­ing camp at St Ge­orge’s Park just a year af­ter she was warned she may never play again af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with peri­cardi­tis. It has been a test­ing and com­pli­cated re­cov­ery, but the 27-year-old has been su­perb for Chelsea in the early stages of the new Women’s Su­per League sea­son, prompt­ing man­ager Emma Hayes to sug­gest she is play­ing the best foot­ball of her ca­reer.

Kirby ad­mit­ted that her time out­side of the dress­ing room had given her a new fo­cus, as well as at­ti­tude towards the game, as she praised man­ager Phil Neville and other mem­bers of Eng­land’s back­room staff for help­ing her through the tough­est pe­riod of her ca­reer.

“Eng­land were fan­tas­tic through­out,” she said. “Phil was al­ways mes­sag­ing me ask­ing how I was get­ting on. Dawn [Scott], the strength and con­di­tion­ing coach, was al­ways see­ing how I was get­ting on and see­ing if I could do any ses­sions. It shows they ap­pre­ci­ate you as a per­son, not just as a player and care about you even when you’re not in the Eng­land en­vi­ron­ment.”

Kirby has been a key mem­ber of the Eng­land squad since the 2017 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, but ad­mit­ted she has not al­ways been the best at ac­cept­ing crit­i­cism. It is some­thing that has changed dur­ing her year out of the game.

“Be­fore, I strug­gled to ac­cept when I hadn’t had the best of games, be­cause I had got an as­sist or I had got a goal or what­ever,” she said.

“Now I’m nit-pick­ing, could I have done bet­ter, could I have passed or should I have been more self­ish and scored a goal? I train ev­ery day like it is go­ing to be my last one. That’s just the at­ti­tude I have. I think I’ve ma­tured a lot. I’ve come back en­er­gised and I’ve come back smil­ing.”

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