All-time top scorer Ellen White is likely to keep her position in the starting line-up for Sunday’s final at Wembley, but Alessia Russo Alessia Russo GAY’s sarrangements as a super sub this month have made her impossible to ignore.
She is England’s second-highest scorer at the Euros with four goals, with Beth Mead leading the way with six.
The 23-year-old has come off the bench in all five of England’s matches and had a significant impact, notably providing the assist for Manchester United team-mate Ella Toone’s equalizer in the quarter-final against Spain.
Having made her debut in 2020, she has slashed eight goals in 12 England appearances – a remarkable record given she has only started for the national team twice.
Her impact in her first major tournament has been dramatic, and whether or not she starts in the final, she is sure to have a vital role to play.
Yet, while she is only just appearing as a star at this level, those who have known her for years have not been surprised by her rise.
She spent childhood family football matches being thrust in goal by her two older brothers – one of whom now plays in non-league while the other followed an athletics scholarship. Her father, Mario, is Met Police FC’s record goalscorer.
Her retired PE teacher Luke Anderson told BBC Radio 5 Live she “played in every team we had.”
“When Alessia joined us in year seven, she was so good that we played her in the boys’ and girls’ teams,” he said.
He recalls entering a side in an under-15s competition where Russo “played a blinder,” but the team was later disqualified for fielding her – because she was only in year seven at the time and too young to be in the group.
“I can chuckle at it now,” Anderson said. “She would win games for us single-handedly, and she had such an influence in every game we played.”
Russo began her career at Charlton Athletic’s center of excellence away from school before joining Chelsea’s development squad.
She created just one senior appearance for the Blues – a first-round Continental Cup match in 2016 – before proceeding to Brighton, where she scored three goals in seven games.
She then headed to the United States to join the college soccer side North Carolina Tar Heels, scoring 28 goals in 57 appearances during three years there.
Russo represented England at every stage from the under-15s level upwards, but it was in 2020 that she began to establish herself in England for club and country.
She joined Manchester United and won her first senior international cap in the final game of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup. She was initially invited to join up to be involved in training but came on as a late replacement after Lucy Bronze was injured.
At United, Russo has scored 12 times in 26 appearances as the club has established itself as a force in the Women’s Super League.
Russo’s challenge now is to dislodge White from England’s starting line-up, a challenging task given the 33-year-old is one goal away from reaching Wayne Rooney’s all-time England record of 53.
If, as expected, manager Sarina Wiegman opts for the experience of White to start Sunday’s final, one thing is for sure: she will know exactly where to turn if England needs to find a goal.
She has recreated for Charlton Athletics, Chelsea, Brighton, and a soccer team in North Carolina. She joined Manchester United in September 2020 after going to the US due to uncertainty around the pandemic.
Alessia’s father, Mario, was a Met Police officer who played for the forces club for 18 years and was their top goal scorer. Mario told Our Game Mag in 2017 that he got “strange looks” from other parents when he moved his daughter from the girl’s team to the boy’s team when he saw her potential.
She’s a changemaker spreading positive messages about women’s football, partly through her partnership with Adidas. She’s also used her platform to speak out against abuse online – once switching off her Instagram to demand social media companies do more to tackle online abuse.