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Fran Kirby

#2 Fran Kirby

Name: Fran Kirby
Institution: Bucks New University
Achievements: England Lioness, FA Cup & Women's Super League Winner

An athlete with the moniker ‘Mini Messi’ shouldn’t lack for confidence, but Fran Kirby got barrel-loads of belief in her own ability from competing in British university sport.

With a huge year ahead for Kirby in the upcoming Women’s World Cup, the Bucks New University graduate – one of the most recognisable and gifted players in world women’s football – still draws on her student-athlete experiences to this day.

“I played at the World University Games in Kazan and won gold,” explained the Women’s Ballon D’or nominee,

“It gave me a massive experience of playing abroad - I hadn’t really done that.

“I hadn’t really played in a different country and got out of my comfort zone up until then.

“I’d just been sticking around Reading, playing with them in my hometown.

“So travelling to play was a massive thing for me to learn, to be away from home for that length of time, and it definitely set me up for the professional environment

“Playing well against those other countries did make me feel a lot more confident when I came into this environment.”

Kirby scooped gold at the World University Games alongside fellow Lionesses Demi Stokes and Izzy Christiansen, who captained the women’s football club at University of Birmingham. The Coaching Science graduate cut her teeth at local team Reading, making her debut for the club aged 16.

International honours quickly followed after several successful seasons in the second tier, handed her first England cap in 2014 and a spot in the squad for the 2015 World Cup. Kirby shot to prominence as a precocious part of the England side that finished third at the showpiece and a subsequent switch to top-flight giants Chelsea underscored her progress.

The 25-year-old is no less decorated in the domestic arena, winning the FA Women’s Super League and FA Cup double in 2017-18.


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