Alessia Russo, 12, made her debut for England in Baku

Alessia Russo, 12, made her debut for England in Baku

Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo on making history, inspiring a generation and that viral backheel goal

As England fans will have been fully aware, on 4 August this year, the world’s eyes were glued to the pitch as a 12-year-old English girls’ academy player was handed her passport and made her England debut in front of a record TV audience. Alessia Russo was one of five girls from her £60,000-a-year public school Academy XI who were named in the squad for the final Euro Finals tournament in Baku, where they took on Spain.

The final was played on the final day of the finals, with England facing Portugal. It was an extraordinary tournament for the girls, featuring more than a few tears and smiles. It was a moment of incredible, unforgettable sport – one which they have now been talking about for years.

As far back as she was aware, Alessia had always wanted to play for England. Born and raised in the city of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, she saw the national team only during school holidays when they took trips abroad. When she started playing for Stoke-on-Trent Girls FC, she trained at the Britannia Stadium, home to the women’s football team. She saw the side play twice a year.

Alessia became an England fan at a very young age.

“When I was really young I was a massive Everton fan and I always loved watching them as a kid,” the now-19-year-old said. “After I had scored against Everton at the Britannia Stadium I said to my mum, ‘They’re not that good but they were awesome today!’”

The teenager moved to London to live with her parents and play for Stoke-on-Trent Football Club. Her mother was a big City fan, but Alessia had a slightly more reserved approach to supporting their club.

“When I was younger I was very reserved towards football supporters,” she said. “I didn’t really like or respect people who supported my team. It was easier back then with my parents watching what I did on the field

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