Fran Kirby opens up on battling illness and admits she almost quit football

Fran Kirby has revealed she nearly quit football after battling to overcome an illness that left her feeling “like a ghost, a zombie.”

England playmaker Kirby was diagnosed with pericarditis – inflammation of the sac lining the heart – five months ago.

And the condition left her feeling so low and listless that she came close, several times, to calling her Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, and England Women coach Phil Neville and saying: “I'm done with football.”

Kirby has scored 13 goals in 45 England appearances to date, and the player once described by ex-Lionesses coach Mark Sampson as a “mini-Messi” was voted Women's Footballer of the Year in 2018.

But she was hit for six by the illness, admitting: “I was in a place where I just completely zoned out of everything. I was a ghost, a zombie, I wasn’t really there. I was struggling to feel like a human being.

“I went from pushing myself to being able to train all week after coming back from injury and getting back involved to not being allowed to walk up the stairs more than twice in a day.

“That’s how extreme it was. I wasn’t allowed to go for a walk, I wasn’t allowed to do anything that would put stress on me, I had to lay on the sofa. For two months.”

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