Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo on making history, inspiring a generation and that viral backheel goal against England
I’m an Italian, I’m Italian, I’m an Italian. It’s something I’ve always said. I’m Italian on my mother’s side of the family. My father is Romanian and his father was Jewish and then he emigrated to the UK and then we arrived here and grew up in England. I always wanted to make history. Now I’m making history.
When was the first time you thought, “I’ve got to make history?”
I think it’s probably when I was 12 years old on the beach in Liguria, Italy. When I saw the sun set over the Ligurian sea, looking at the sky and listening to the waves, I thought, “I’ve got to make history” and that was it. That was the moment. Everything else followed from that point.
You said you’ve always wanted to do the things that you wanted to do. When did you realise that you’d make history, if you got to do it?
It was not until I started playing football and getting involved with the England women’s squad. I played a lot of friendly matches and then I started getting called up for the senior team a lot. I was very conscious of the history of women’s football at that point, because I could see that we were making a difference and that we were taking the game forward. I wanted to make history at that point.
And this was after you’d started to get recognised and call into the England women’s squad?
Yeah. And when I was doing my internationals I would have my phone in my pocket and if I was at home I would check my phone to see who is playing or about to play. I would also turn on World Cup qualifiers, as well as the England games, which was lovely. I was very aware of all the history.
When did you find out you would make history?
When it happened, I was 14 years old, and it was with a friend of mine, who was called Natasha. She was playing for West Brom and she scored the winning goal against England. It was not a backheel, it was one of