Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo on making history, inspiring a generation and that viral backheel goal
The final whistle sounds and Italy win the 2018 World Cup in the Netherlands. A year ago it was Cristiano Ronaldo who led the celebrations, with the likes of Marco Verratti and co beaming proudly, in the post-match press conference at the final whistle. Since then, there’s been a lull of euphoria but for Alessia Russo and her national team, there’s been another chapter to write.
Her ‘I don’t care’ moment against England was an historic one, not only because of her performance and leadership, but also because it happened right on the cusp of a new wave of social justice. It was the moment in which a young woman came forward and made history, and a generation now understands the true power of a woman standing up to the man of the moment and having the courage to defy them.
At 22, she was already a figure of authority as a representative of her country, and though she’s now the coach of the England women’s national team, she still has time to inspire a fresh generation of women to do the same. Here we speak to her about what it really means to become a role model for the younger generations, why winning the World Cup is more than football and how she plans to inspire a new generation of women to stand up for themselves, one that will make history, too.
Why did you decide to coach Italy?
I came into Italy as a kid in the late 90s from a small village in the Emilia-Romagna region, and I was a football-mad kid. So I did the same things I do now, which is be committed to my club and my club’s cause and try to raise that passion to people who might not be that interested in football, but have the potential to become football fans, as I did.
When you were growing up you could see how important sport was in our culture, and how important the footballers were as role models for their families, who were also fans