England's Fran Kirby in reflective and positive mood ahead of new Lionesses season

Fran Kirby has been back in the England squad this season, for the first time since last October, and the Chelsea forward opens up on her return to the fold and what the future might hold...

Thursday 22 Oct 2020
Fran Kirby has been back in the England Women's squad this season


I didn’t really know much about pericarditis when I was first diagnosed with it in November last year, but basically it’s an inflammation of the sack that protects the heart.

It was really strange to find out that I had the problem and a bit surreal to be honest but the main problem was that it made me feel very tired, fatigued and poorly. 

Every morning I’d wake up and feel like I had played a 90-minute football match the day before - and of course I hadn’t!

I could even be sleeping for 15 or 16 hours a day and still wake up feeling like I needed to go and take a nap.

It was really tough and things went on like that for a few months and into the new year until I finally got myself into a place where I was able to be present in the moment.

The Chelsea ace was back in an England shirt for the inter squad match last month

Up until then, I really didn’t even want to think about football even though I was watching games and trying to stay interested.

At one stage, playing football was literally the last thing I wanted to do and on reflection that really shows me how poorly I was, because that’s very unlike me. 

Then COVID-19 arrived right when I was just starting to feel a little better - I wasn’t anywhere near getting onto the pitch but I’d just been on holiday to Portugal and I felt a bit more like myself.

I started running a bit and getting in the gym and then football was completely put on hold. That is when I really started to up my training.

I used the lockdown as an opportunity to try and make up for the six months that I’d just had away from football - in my mind I had already experienced one lockdown - so for me it was just about getting as fit as possible and I felt positive.


I started training with the team doctor about two weeks before the rest of the Chelsea team came back in and I was loving being back on the pitch.

Then when the rest of the girls arrived back for pre-season training, I felt great and so happy to be part of the group again.

In a way, I think I was really lucky with the way I came back because it didn’t feel like a big deal and nobody really made a fuss.

It was a new season and a fresh start for everyone after last season and so I kind of just slipped back into the routine seamlessly.


Since I’ve been back playing I feel like I’ve got a new lease of life - something I love was nearly taken away from me and that gives you another layer of determination.

Everyone around me has of course been so supportive and I think Phil [Neville] and Emma [Hayes] are both really happy with me at the moment but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself just yet.

Football is a beautiful thing but it can also betray you in the most awful way.

As a player you can have goal droughts or give the ball away and suddenly that confidence just slips away, so I’m trying not to get too excited about the way I’m playing right now.

For now it’s just a case of working hard but the most important thing is to try and be a part of a winning team for both club and country.


I’m a strong believer that players should be picked on form so I’m really pleased to see some of the younger players being called up to the senior team now.

The players that have come into the squad lately have really impressed in an environment where they might be a bit nervous - I know when I first came in I was terrified.

It’s really exciting to be a part of the squad at the moment and to see players that can help take us to the next level but most importantly for me it’s great to see their hard work rewarded.

The Lionesses head to Wiesbaden to play Germany next Tuesday

For me and probably the rest of the squad our attention at the moment is on the Olympics.

This team wants to win that gold medal - as players you want to win every competition that you participate in - that’s just how it is.

Even when it’s not a tournament, I still want to win. I want to beat Germany on Tuesday, that's just how it is for me and that’s how it has to be.

Regardless of the team that goes to the Olympics I have no doubt those players will be desperate to win it and then go on and win the European Championships too.

Of course, there are things outside of your control like what draw you’re going to get or what obstacles you’re going to have to overcome but it’s about having that winning mindset - that is crucial to success.

By Fran Kirby England and Chelsea forward