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