Chelsea and England star Fran Kirby has described her career as a ‘rollercoaster’ as she prepares to win her 50th senior international cap for the Lionesses this week.

Kirby has re-established herself as one of the best players in the world this year with scintillating form for Chelsea, battling back from a heart illness that ruled her out of action for several months in 2019/20 and even threatened her career.

The 28-year-old has also had knee and ankle injury problems in the past, while she quit football as a teenager as a result of depression that followed the sudden death of her mother.

But Kirby had a stunning season for Chelsea in 2020/21, walking away with the second PFA and FWA individual awards of her career. She has also recently been nominated for the 2021 Ballon d’Or Feminin, having previously featured on the 2018 shortlist.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, for sure. But it’s a journey that I’m really proud of and one that, looking back, I probably wouldn’t change a lot. I know I’ve been through a lot, but it’s made me who I am,” she said at a press conference ahead of England’s clash with Latvia this week.

Kirby, who made her Lionesses derby in 2014 and enjoyed a breakout at the World Cup the following year, made it 49 England appearances against Northern Ireland last time out and is now set to hit the half century on the international stage.

“Hopefully I get to play a part and get the 50th cap,” she explained. “It’s obviously something that I’m really proud of and I’ve been part of this team for a long time now, so me to get that 50th cap it will be really, really special. It’s just nice to be back playing regularly with the team.”

The coronavirus pandemic has seen England play just six times since the end of 2019.

The fixture against Latvia is the fourth of 10 qualifying games England will play in the hope of reaching the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. They have started with three successive wins under new manager Sarina Wiegman, scoring 22 and conceding none so far.

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