Friday, September 29, 2023

Alessia Russo has gone from Charlton mascot to Man United and Arsenal star and is one game from being a World Cup winner

Alessia Russo has given a timely reminder to England that the future is in safe hands after Ellen White’s retirement.

The Lionesses’ record goalscorer walked away from football after the glorious success at last summer’s Euros where England beat Germany.

Russo has scored three World Cup goals so far and has Spain in her sights nextGetty

White had led the line for more than a decade, but there was a superstar waiting in the wings to take over.

Russo made her mark at the Euros becoming England’s super sub, scoring four times on their way to the title.

Now she will be lining up in Sunday’s World Cup final with a chance to fire the Lionesses to glory.

After a slow start to the tournament, the 24-year-old has burst into life by scoring in both the quarter-final and semi-final.

She netted the winner against Colombia before scoring England’s third in the 3-1 win over Australia.

Russo, along with her teammates, now has the chance to write her name in the history books when the Lionesses play in their first ever World Cup final.

Whatever happens, she is already a superstar in the football world and can count David Beckham among her fans.

Russo grew up in Maidstone, Kent and played local football before being picked up by Charlton.

Russo can count Beckham among her fansadidas

To think it all started as a mascot at The Valley! @alessiarusso7 she’s one of our own #cafc #Lionesses

— cafcSUPPORTERStrust (@CAStrust) August 16, 2023

She was even a mascot for the club’s women’s team and pictured holding the hand of Casey Stoney, her future manager at Manchester United.

Several years in Chelsea’s academy followed before she made the decision to play and study at a US college.

She said: “I loved watching any kind of football when it was on, and America were consistently winning on the world stage at that point in time. 

“So with me wanting to broaden my horizons, and experience something new, when the opportunity to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came up after I’d visited the school, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.”

Russo starred for Man United in the WSL before joining rivals ArsenalGetty

She got a degree in sports and exercise science at the University of North Carolina. Russo played for their football team the Tar Heels and scored 28 times in 57 appearances.

Due to uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, she gave up her final year of college eligibility and returned to the UK.

Manchester United then snapped her up on a two-year contract and she made an almost instant impact.

Russo was nominated for October 2020 player of the month after scoring three goals, before her season was ended through injury.

She continued to impress at United and really announced herself on the world stage during last summer’s Euros.

The striker finished third top scorer despite not starting a single match.

A European champion in 2022, Russo will be waiting to seize any opportunity to ensure England are world champions in 2023Getty

The 24-year-old nearly became the most expensive player in women’s history in January too when Arsenal had two record bids turned down by Man United.

Both were more than the £400,000 Barcelona paid for Keira Walsh.

Russo ended up joining the Gunners anyway this summer and has now been a star at the World Cup.

Speaking to talkSPORT after the semi-final win, she said: “I’m buzzing. Can’t wait now. It was really tough tonight, we knew they’d have the stadium filled and would have players that can hurt us.”

She added: “As soon as we step out over that white line we want to fight for each other and we have big dreams as a team. It means everything.”

Russo will be a guaranteed starter for Sunday’s showdown with Spain in the final.

At still only 24, she can become a European and World champion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *