Fran Kirby has already given fans in Brighton two nights they will long remember.

She recalls, with a laugh, that one was a bit more stressful than she would have wanted.

Now the England star and multiple medal winner hopes to enjoy some special times in Albion colours.

Kirby is on board with the Seagulls for the coming WSL campaign after leaving Chelsea at the end of last season.

This is a big deal. It feels like when Adam Lallana joined the men’s team. Or Danny Welbeck.

Or when Hope Powell took over as manager for the WSL challenge.

Or maybe the arrival of Vicky Losada – or Emma Byrne in the Spring Series days.

Back on the men’s side, you might think of Gus Poyet and Alan Mullery coming in as managers to raise the game.

Go way, way back and there was double-winner Bobby Smith coming in from Tottenham.

But Kirby’s arrival is arguably up with any of those.

It is a stunning move to bring in a key figure from the Lionesses team which twice thrilled fans on fabulous nights at the Amex as they headed to Euros success in 2022.

Kirby sort of gets all that but, at the same time, likes to think of it as no big deal.

Just another signing as part of the club’s progress.

She said: “It just shows where the women’s game is going in this country and the ambition that more and more clubs want to hopefully get a taste of success and to build a legacy.

“For me to come here and kind of be seen as a big signing, I don’t feel like a big signing at this football club.

“The club already has its standards and its drives of what it wants to achieve and I am just going to play a small part in that.

“I will be part of something which one day I hope, will be a lot bigger than one Lioness being here.

“It will be two, three, four hopefully in the future to help build the game here and get bums on seats and come down and support everyone.

“It is really cool to be part of it.

“As an English player, I wanted to stay in the English league and be a part of growing this league.

“It is a cool moment but it is not one I’ve really thought about in terms of, ‘Look at me!’.”

Kirby will be looked at, though. As something of a standard-setter.

There will be a leadership role, be it spelt out or implied. Leading by example.

At Chelsea, she won seven WSL titles, five FA Cups and two League Cups, as well as helping them reach a Champions League final.

She was twice PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year on two occasions, most recently in 2021, when she was also named FWA Women’s Player of the Year, WSL Player of the Year and Chelsea Women’s Player of the Year.

Now she is fit and raring to after injury concerns and said: “I still feel I have so much more to give on and off the pitch.

“Last year I was restricted with minutes in terms of how much I was able to give and show.

“Hopefully now I can get a good pre-season under my belt, a run of games and show that side of me. I strongly believe I still have a lot to give.”

Albion have yet to confirm their head coach for next season but have announced three signings this week with more set to follow.

They have fallen some way short of their medium-to-long-term top-four goal so far but Kirby has some idea of what makes a leading WSL outfit.

She said: “The gap is already closing.

“You see the likes of Liverpool and the season they had last year.

“We all know the top teams in the WSL are there for a reason in terms of the personnel they bring in, the funding they have behind them, salaries they can pay.

“For me, there is always going to be that kind of gap.

“But I think, as long as you have the right people in your building and in your environment, you stand a chance to win against anyone.

“We saw that last year when Brighton went up to Man City and got a 1-0 result there away from home.

“People probably saw that game as an easy game for Man City.

“I think the league is becoming more competitive.

“There are always going to be the top teams who are able to spend so much money, but it is getting much more competitive.

“It’s not just that you turn up to the game now and everything is easy.

“You have to be on it from minute one.

“With the signings Brighton are bringing in, I think it is going to be a really exciting season.”

Like those warm summer nights of two years ago.

Fans packed the Amex to see England sweep past Norway 8-0, then come from behind to beat Spain 2-1 after extra-time in the quarters.

From the stands, the second of those felt like an epic encounter, the more memorable occasion.

But Kirby replied: “I wouldn’t say the Spain game ranks very highly!

“That was quite a nerve-racking one to be honest although obviously the end result was amazing.

“The game against Norway was pretty special with how the result went and how the performance went.

“For me, that game really spurred us on for the rest of the tournament.

“You come to a stadium like Brighton and the pitch is unbelievable, the facilities are unbelievable and, for me, those memories will live for a long time.

“It is nice to have those memories and now come here as a Brighton player to hopefully play at the stadium again.”