Tuesday 9 October 2018

'One of our own' nominated for Ballon d'Or

Reading-born Academy graduate Fran Kirby shortlisted for prestigious award...

The Ballon d'Or has been awarded by France Football to male players every year since 1956, with former England international Sir Stanley Matthews the first winner. But this is the first time there has been an award in the women's game...and a former Royal is shortlisted!

Reading-born striker Fran Kirby became Reading FC Women's first full-time professional player almost four years ago at the age of 21 and, as one of the most promising prospects in the country, was snapped up by Chelsea for a reported record fee in July 2015.But she remains 'one of our own'.Kirby joined the Royals at seven years of age and came through the Centre of Excellence at Reading.She came all the way through the girls' Academy ranks and made her Reading FC Women's debut at 16.

In 2013-14, Fran ended the season as FA Women's Premier League Southern Division's top scorer with 32 goals in 21 appearances!

And the following year, she finished as the country's leading female scorer in all competitions, bagging an extraordinary 29 goals in 22 games - form which saw her named as the inaugural WSL2 Players' Player of the Year.An England call came soon after and, naturally, she scored on her debut - against Sweden at Victoria Park, Hartlepool. And she was hailed as the stand out player in Great Britain's gold medal-winning team at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia.

She went on to represent the Lionesses in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, hosted in Canada - scoring in a 2-1 win against Mexico.

As a Chelsea player she only continued to star. In October 2015, she scored twice in Chelsea's 4-0 win over Sunderland which secured the club's first FA WSL title - a league and cup double. And in the same month, Kirby scored Chelsea's first ever UEFA Women's Champions League goal in a 1-0 win over Glasgow City.Last season, Kirby was pivotal to Chelsea's domestic double as they claimed the Women's Super League and FA Cup.

And this April, Kirby was awarded the PFA Player's Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year for the 2017-18 season.And, days after scoring the only goal in England's win over Brazil at the weekend, Kirby has now been shortlisted alongside her Lionesses teammate Lucy Bronze for the inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or award.Congratulations Fran!