England’s Fran Kirby: “It’s OK not to be OK” | The Journey | The Players’ Tribune Global

— My mum used to say that
she took me to the doctor’s one time, and when they do all
your tests and your balance, he threw a tennis ball
to see how I would react, and I kicked it back to
him, at three years old. So I think ever since then,
my mum was a bit like O.K., I think she wants to be a footballer. She was, like I said, the
biggest driving force in my life. She was always very happy, very smiley. How I described myself when I was younger, my laugh, everyone could
hear my laugh a mile away, same with my mum. — Wee! — I remember … I was actually playing
football at primary school, and we had some Reading coaches
come in to do a session, and then the Reading
coach was actually like, to my mum, he was like,
“She’s really good, you should bring her
along to the session.” And I remember for weeks, I didn’t go ’cause I was
terrified, I was so scared. I used to sit and cry, I’d
refuse to get in the car with my mum, I was like,
“No, I’m not going.” ‘Cause they didn’t have an Under-10s, I was only seven at the time, and my mum would always be like, “Come on, stop being silly, go out and play.” And I think that she really had it in mind that I’d become a professional. I think to start with,
she knew that I loved it, so she wanted me to be happy. And, you know, she would tell me near enough every day, she was like, “Oh, you’re gonna be the best
player in the world,” you know? But, you know when I’m
growing up, all the other mums are probably saying that
to their kids, so I’m like, “Yeah Mum, you just have
to say that, don’t you?” Like, “It’s O.K.,” like — She always felt that she
had the best footballer as a daughter, she made that very aware to all the other mums
standing on the sidelines, she’d be like, “Yeah, but my
daughter’s the best.” You know? One of them kind of mums,
where they’re just like, “Yep, she’s better, yeah that’s fine.” Yeah, she was … She was a very, very special woman. We’d just finished our season with Reading Academy, and at the end of every
season, we have an evening at the Madejski Stadium where you’d go in, you’d sit with a coach,
and you kinda talk about what you’ve been good at this year, what you haven’t been
good at, or what you need to improve on. We were
just talking normally, she was just having a conversation,
and then she just said, “I don’t feel very well.” And then … just put her head on the table, and just kind of passed out. And yeah, I just remember that, you know, we kinda got told that … obviously, she had a brain hemorrhage, and there wasn’t much really
they could do for her, and I was quite young, so I’d —
I was just a bit like, “O.K., like, she’ll be
fine, like, they say that there’s not much they
can, but she’ll be fine, like, it’s no problem.” So I went back to my best friend’s house, stayed there that night, we were sitting in the garden … the next day it was a beautiful
day, it was really nice, the 29th of May, and her mum
come in the garden and said, “Need to go back down to the hospital.” And … my aunties had come down — sorry. I really wanna talk about it. Yeah, and then, obviously,
that was when we got the news, and … I remember, it didn’t
really hit our family much for a long time after that, which I think was probably the worse thing that we could’ve done, we never spoke about her after that, and you know, like I said,
we just carried on, like, played football, was just normal. I’d done everything, I was at Reading, I was playing at England, it was going great, really, you know? It was kinda just, like,
nothing had really happened. And then, obviously, you know, grief caught up to a lot of us later on. I’d turn very introverted when I was 15 because I was going through
this dark phase, you know, I wasn’t there, you know, I was a zombie. But, I think it was … it was probably when I went
away on an England camp, where I realised, you know, O.K., something’s not right here. I went up to Manchester, and
I remember sitting in a room with Mo Marley, who ended up managing me in the seniors, eventually,
I remember sitting in the room with Mo and I
just said, “I wanna go home.” I was like, “I don’t
wanna do this anymore,” and she was out there like,
“What do you mean?” I was like, I remember feeling so embarrassed
about saying this now, I remember sitting there and crying, I just said, “I
miss my mum.” And I remember just sitting there, and I was
just crying, crying, crying, and — she actually said to me, she said, “O.K., we’re not gonna come to you. You need to tell us when you’re ready to come back into this environment again.” I remember, I went home
and there was a woman who was the physio at Reading at the time, her name was Julie Townrow … who was absolutely incredible. She — I went around her house
every night, pretty much, and we just watched — we just watched TV, we just ate
pizza, you know, everything, and I would have days where I
would just not get out of bed, not go to sixth form, not go
to college, not do any work, or I would get to the bus stop
and just break down crying, ring Jules, “Jules, I need
you to come pick me up, like, I can’t go in,” she
would come and pick me up. Yeah, it was just trying
to find myself again, and allow myself to have that grief, you know, just to get out the
system and go again, and it was a real whirlwind
few years, definitely, and from going — believing
that nothing happened, to then just, the world just coming down. One of my best friends, Sarah Devern … she came round one day and she said, “But why don’t you come
and play for my team?” She was like, “We don’t
train during the week. When you turn up, we don’t warm up. You literally just turn up on a Sunday, you play, we go in the bar afterwards.” I was like, “Sounds amazing.” I think that was really
what brought my love back was just going there, and
there would be no pressure. I think about her all the time. Towards the end of the season
where everything was great, when we won the FA Cup, we
won the League, I won the PFA, I won the FWA, and, you know,
all the other individual awards that come alongside it, I remember
sitting on the coach back from — Liverpool away was the
last game of the season, we’d already won the League
and everything had been done — and I remember just sitting
there and I just cried, and all the girls were probably
thinking, “Why is she crying? Like, this is really good,
we’ve had such a good year.” I just remember sitting next
to the girls and I just said, I was just like — ’cause
there’s only one person who I wanna pick up the phone to and call, and I can’t do that. I think one thing that I’ve
definitely learned from it is understanding when your
body needs to have a break, how to love yourself
again is really important, and just, you know,
understanding that it’s normal to feel a certain way when
you’ve dealt with such … bad experiences in your
life, so I try and always resolve my life around how
I can be better for her, or, yeah, what she would think.

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  1. Its nice to see such touching and uplifting stories. We sometimes forget footballers are humans too and can face mental health. Similar situation happened to Adriano and he never recovered from his fathers loss. Cudos to Fran Kirby

  2. Best Player Ever!!!!πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

  3. She is actually the best player ever in the pitch and offπŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

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