Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo on making history, inspiring a generation and that viral backheel goal
Alessia Russo celebrated her win in the final of the Uefa Women’s Champions League at a raucous Stade de La Ligue, as her side – the Italian team Juventus FC – were making history.
The Italian club, founded in 1881, had won the Uefa Champions League three times before, between 2001 and 2006. They had also reached the semi-finals of the competition in 2002 and, in a memorable semi-final in 2007, they beat Barcelona in extra time to reach the final, but lost to Lyon, 2-0, in a hard-fought affair.
That loss was the closest Roma had been to silverware since 1970, when they lost to Bologna, 1-0, in the final of the Coppa Italia.
But now the story of just one year from now could be one of the most memorable in the history of Italian football.
In June, Juve will face Arsenal in the final. Last year, Arsenal, with their manager’s eye-catching red tie and team-of-the-year-best-on-the-pitch individual accolades, finished third, their first season without a Premier League title.
The season before they had lost to rivals Chelsea in the final, after a replay. This season, however, the Gunners are on course for a top-four finish – a major step towards the Champions League.
And Alessia Russo is one of the players who have shaped that success. As the winner of last season’s Champions League, she is, for now at least, one of the players to beat at the top of Italian women’s football.
“People don’t realise how important I am,” said the 26-year-old in the team’s players hotel in Marseille. We’ve got a great team, even