Mar 7, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA;England forward Fran Kirby (10) dribbles the ball during the second half of an international friendly women's soccer match at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After spending almost a decade with one club, Fran Kirby is ready for a change.

In an emotional video posted to social media on Saturday, the club’s leading goalscorer addressed fans directly in announcing her departure from Chelsea FC Women.

“Thank you for embracing me from day one. And helping me, as I said, overcome some really difficult times and sharing some amazing times with me.

“I hope that I have left the club and the shirt in a place where you all can be proud of me.”

Kirby also released a statement on her social media accounts, thanking the club’s supporters and reflecting on her career with Chelsea.

“Every amazing story must one day come to an end.

This is the end of mine in Blue.

What an incredible journey: from Staines to Stamford Bridge.

Firstly, I’d like to show love to all of my teammates who I have played alongside, both current Blues and former.

The memories you have helped me create are ones I will hold with me forever and I can never thank you enough. The friendships I have made are ones I will cherish for the rest of my life.

To the fans, you embraced me from day one. You supported me through some of the highest and lowest moments of not just my career, but also my life.

“Super Fran” – I heard you every game and will always be grateful for the support and love. I will remember that for the rest of my life.

I will always cherish the memories we made and the trophies we won. What a ride it’s been!

There were some incredible moments: becoming your all-time top goalscorer, your first Champions League goalscorer and reaching a Champions League final are all things I am so proud of.

But, I think we all know it’s the right time for something new.

The #14 shirt has been so special to me, and I hope I made you proud wearing it.

I know my Mum would be so honoured to have had the number 14 with me for the last 9 years. It’s meant everything to me.

Thank you for everything, Blues.

Super Fran #14″

One of the most renowned footballers in the women’s game, Fran Kirby will be sorely missed by the Blues. With her 115 goals in 205 appearances for Chelsea, she helped drive the team to 6 WSL titles, 5 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, and a Community Shield.

Kirby isn’t alone in leaving this year, and reflects a sea change in the makeup of Chelsea, posing questions for what the team will look like going into next season.

Her announcement closely follows the planned departure of manager Emma Hayes for the USWNT, as well as teammate Maren Mjelde, who last week was herself confirmed to be leaving the club after seven years with Chelsea.

Before Sunday’s fixture against Bristol City, Hayes thanked the two players for their time with Chelsea and the fans for supporting them throughout her tenure.

“This is my last home game as manager, as well as a chance for you to say farewell to Fran and Maren, two legends of this football club.

“Thank you for always being behind the team, cheering us on whatever the circumstances, and for making this such a special journey. I love you all and I’ll never forget you.”

Following the statement 8-0 win for Chelsea at Kingsmeadow, Kirby and Mjelde were honored with framed jerseys and a passionate send-off from the home crowd.

So what’s next for CWFC going into the 2024-25 season, and does this changing of the guard pose any risk for the team’s era of dominance?

The silver lining next year is that fans may look forward to the return of a familiar face as Sam Kerr takes on the long recovery process from her ACL injury, who agreed to an extension of her contract which was set to expire this summer.

But beyond that, and faced with a challenger for the WSL title in Manchester City, we may be entering a new era of greater parity and competition in the women’s game in England.