Fran hopes to be the first of manyFran Kirby has spoken of the incredible achievement of becoming Reading FC Women's first professional player, and hopes to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
At just 21 years of age the striker is one of the most promising prospects in the country - and will now become her club's first ever full time player ahead of the 2015 WSL2 campaign.
"The club have been amazing and supported me ever since I was younger," said Kirby. "To top it off they’ve given me my first professional contract so I’m very happy. It’s a massive thing for me and I’m really proud of it. Hopefully next season we can get promoted and more girls can follow in my footsteps by turning professional. That is huge for me. Being able to train every day and do what you want to do a daily basis is amazing.
"I joined Reading at seven years of age and have come through the centre of excellence. I made my debut at 16 and to be able to sit here now and be professional having gone all that way through the Academy makes all of the hard work worthwhile. It just shows that the club will support players from the beginning and not just bring them in when they’re older. There’s a few of us that have been here since Academy level and this shows that they’re sticking by us. That’s very important. If you look at the men’s side, the number of players that have stepped into the first-team from Academy level is huge. Hopefully we can continue that with the girls’ Academy. For girls who are aspiring to play, this is a perfect place to do that."
Fran finished as the country's leading female scorer in all competitions, bagging an extraordinary 29 goals in 22 games - form which saw her earn her first call up to the England national side. Naturally, she scored on her debut.
"One of the main targets is to get to the World Cup with England. With that in my sights I’m really motivated to get there and I’m sure Reading will be really supportive of me to get there. That is going to be the main task - then of course domestically we want to get Reading promoted. Even with all of my targets around being the top goalscorer in the league I didn’t expect to get as many goals as I did. I was really proud of that but I took my chances when I got them and with England I made sure that I was ready for my opportunity. My England debut was sureal. Being able to go on the pitch and score was incredible. It’s what every young female footballer dreams of."