Kirby may be self-effacing, but she’s not shy over her nation’s aspirations. The Lionesses reached the semi-finals at Canada 2015 and the UEFA Women’s EURO last year, but when asked if winning France 2019 is beyond them – England are the sixth favourites behind USA, France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands – Kirby responded emphatically:
“No, absolutely not. We’ve had two semi-finals now and we felt the hurt in both of them. They were very disappointing for us, so we need to make sure we’ve learnt from them and go all the way to the Final.”
Kirby embellishes the ‘total football’ Neville is advocating – she even wears the No14 shirt for Chelsea trademarked by the concept’s forefather, Johan Cruyff, albeit because she idolises Thierry Henry. She’s imaginative, versatile, sharp to act, moves perceptively and synchronises melodiously with team-mates.
“We proved ourselves when we played in the SheBelieves Cup,” she said. “We’ve got the experience now, but we want to make sure we go all the way.”
Can Kirby make France 2019 go down as Fran 2019?