Fran Kirby reflects on 'really special' night at Old Trafford
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Beth Mead’s 16th minute strike – assisted by Kirby – ensured that the Lionesses made a winning start to their first home tournament since 2005.
And a new attendance record for the competition was set in Manchester, with over 68,000 fans coming together on a hugely significant night for the women’s game.
Playing in such a huge occasion was something that England’s players relished, including Kirby.
“It was incredible,” she said. “When we came out for the warm-up, it was really, really special.
“You come out to the line-up and everyone's singing the national anthem. Then the whistle blows and it's straight down to business.
“But it was a moment I won't forget for a long time and my family and friends were in the audience as well so you can't ask for much better than that.”
Highlights: England 1-0 Austria
See the best of the action from Old Trafford, where the Lionesses kick-off EURO 2022 with win against Austria
Discussing the game, Kirby was particularly keen to praise teammate Mary Earps, who made two important saves in the latter stages to secure the victory.
She stated: “In the first half, maybe she wasn’t tested as much, so she stays alert and she's ready for those moments.
“We know that Mary can pull off saves like that, she did it against Austria last time, where she kept us in the game, or kept us winning the game.
“We know that it's important to have a quality goalkeeper behind you. Not only for saves she made, but I think that her distribution she had in the first half to Lucy Bronze, especially out that side, was really, really special and it built us momentum going forward and pulling the strings going forward.
“I think people talk about goalkeepers with their shot stopping, but I think that her distribution tonight was incredible.”
With matches set to be played at ten different stadiums across England over the next month, culminating with the final at Wembley, Kirby believes that she and her teammates have a brilliant opportunity to inspire the next generation of Lionesses.
The Chelsea attacker added: “Our priority is to win the tournament and to also show young boys and young girls that these things are achievable, to play in front of 70,000 people at Old Trafford.
“When I was growing up, I never even imagined that was possible. For me, I think anything that’s going to help grow the game in this country and all over the world, I think it’s a positive thing regardless of whether we win or whether we don’t.
“I’m a winner, so I want to win first. But, I mean for us, we do everything we can to inspire younger people to see their dreams become a reality, that’s something we’re proud of doing.”
England are back in action next Monday, when they face Norway at the Brighton Community Stadium in their second group game of the competition.