England's Kirby joins Brighton after Chelsea exit

Fran Kirby

Brighton have signed England international Fran Kirby on a free transfer following the expiry of her contract at Women's Super League champions Chelsea.

Kirby, 31, is widely regarded as one of England's greatest female players and won five successive WSL titles with Chelsea before her departure.

Having spent her entire club career in the south of England, Kirby's move to Brighton means she can stay close to home and will continue to play in the WSL.

The forward, who started every game for England as they won Euro 2022, will go down as one of Brighton's most high-profile signings.

"We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Fran to the club", managing director of women’s and girls’ football Zoe Johnson said.

"She arrives as one of the most decorated English footballers of all time, playing an integral role in Chelsea’s recent dominance, as well as on the international stage having been a part of England’s Euro 2022 win.

"Her experience on the pitch will be just as important off it and we have no doubt that she will help us take a significant step towards our long-term targets."

Brighton finished ninth in the WSL last season during a campaign where they sacked manager Melissa Phillips and which was overseen for the second half by interim boss Mikey Harris, brought in from the men’s academy.

Brighton have been able to attract several big names in recent years including two-time Champions League winner Pauline Bremer and former Barcelona captain Vicky Losada.

The club has ambitions to break into the WSL's top four and a signing of Kirby's calibre will go some way towards that.

During a nine-year stint with Chelsea, Kirby scored 63 goals in 114 WSL games, winning eight league titles in the process.

Despite a career plagued with serious injuries and illnesses, Kirby is still regarded as a key member of Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses.