Emma Hayes has described Fran Kirby as a ‘national treasure’ after the Chelsea forward proved influential in the Blues’ 3-0 win against Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup final.
The 28-year-old has become renowned for being a ‘big game’ player and justified these claims once again on Sunday–– scoring after just two minutes to set the tone for Hayes’ side.
From there, Chelsea were dominant throughout and two goals from the in-form Sam Kerr secured a famous 3-0 victory in front of more than 40,000 at Wembley.
Kirby was the provider for Kerr’s first goal as she delivered an inch-perfect through ball into the path of the Australian.
And speaking after the game, Hayes lauded the English star for her standout performance.
“I thought that was Fran’s best game in a Chelsea shirt,” she stressed. “I thought she ran the show. She got the ball in dangerous situations, she thread Sam [Kerr] through on numerous occasions and was also a real threat herself.”
Hayes joked that Kirby had promised to put on a show at Wembley for a number of weeks. It seems the Chelsea legend thrives on the big occasion and raises her game to new heights.
“She’s been telling me for weeks what to expect today and she delivered above and beyond. And I’ll say it again, she’s a national treasure.”
Chelsea’s victory ensured they completed a historic domestic treble –– the first time an English side has done so since Arsenal in 2006-07.
Kirby has now been pivotal in all of these triumphs. In the Conti Cup final, she scored twice and assisted a further four as the Blues beat Bristol City 6-0.
In the league, she was named the Women’s Footballer of the Year, while at Wembley on Sunday, she scored once and assisted another.
Her performances across the last year have led many to consider her one of the best players in world football and the forward finished 10th in the Women’s Ballon d’Or earlier this week.
Yet despite being one of Chelsea’s most influential players, Kirby has not been quite as influential with England.
Yet, Hayes believes this is because Kirby needs to be utilised correctly and stressed that her best position is playing behind the striker.
“I think you’ve got to put her in the right position. She’s been playing a little bit lower in midfield [for England] and Serena [Wiegman] is helping her develop more.
“Fran is at her best when she plays off a striker and is able to just float in those key areas and I thought everything she did was just so dynamic. I felt like every time she went forward she was going to score a goal.”
Kirby has won every domestic trophy there is to win in England and a Champions League winners medal must surely be next on the agenda.
And who knows, if the forward keeps performing in this manner, European silverware will start looking like an increasingly more realistic possibility.