Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo on making history, inspiring a generation and that viral backheel goal
It’s no secret that the world needs more women in football. According to FIFA, the top 10 active women’s team in the world are – not coincidentally – in the UK. They are: Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea, Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, and finally Arsenal.
Yet, according to a BBC Sport poll, less than half (47%) of British football fans would be happy to see more women in the game. And as the women’s game grows in popularity, it comes down to the grassroots – grassroots football – of the fans and the coaches who train them.
FIFA recently published its latest World Cup statistics, showing England was the fifth most successful nation with its women’s side on the planet. A woman has now reached the final 41 times in the World Cup – including her three wins in France. She is also the only woman to have reached the final in the 20 different editions of the competition.
When Alessia was asked about this milestone by BBC Sport, she was proud to be part of the team. “I’m really, really happy that I did it.”
But it wasn’t just about winning the World Cup. Alessia said: “It’s a long journey to be called the number one in the world, this is not easy, I had to put a lot of work to reach the top. I want to thank the men, the coaches, the people of the world for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to compete. I would like to thank my husband for always believing in me and supporting me.”
“I know it’s not easy in this country, but to see that people are so positive I feel like I can go further as well.
“I am proud to be my country, this country, this sport and this team. As a captain I want to say thank you to the people of the country and the fans, they motivate us more than anything.”
It wasn’t just winning the World Cup that put Alessia on the map. It was the goal scored against Cameroon. The goal was scored at the World Cup in France.