FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019: Alessia Russo

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

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is almost two weeks away, but many of the players and coaches at the heart of the contest have already been on show for fans since the start. Alessia Russo (@alessiarugby) has no doubt about who’s been the most influential in her life since she first stepped on a pitch.

I was seven years of age when I first went to watch a World Cup game, but I’m still pretty excited that I’ve become the first woman to play for Nigeria at a major FIFA Women’s World Cup.

I’m not the oldest women playing in a FIFA tournament, but I am the youngest at the same age as my teammates from the Ivory Coast and Japan.

I also turned 38 in November and my friend and fellow 2022 World Cup winner, Ademola Tunsil (@AdemolaTunsil), is now 48. I’m really honoured to have played with Ademola in Nigeria. She’s the first woman to win a FIFA women’s World Cup with either the USA or Nigeria.

I’m very grateful to all my teammates for giving me the opportunity to play at a World Cup, and it’s been an amazing experience to be the captain of the team from Nigeria and representing my country, even if we didn’t win. I’m still not going to celebrate every goal, but I definitely like to think I give my all every time I play and I am grateful and proud of the way I have played.

It was an honour to go to a World Cup when I first turned 33, and I got to meet legendary players I’ve admired, including some who have won women’s football’s most prestigious prize. To be asked to captain the team from Nigeria, and then be given the captaincy in my last World Cup, is a tremendous honour for me.

“I would like to point out that I

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