All HEEL Queen Alessia Russo! The home counties schoolgirl who became a star in women’s football


No striker wants to be a super sub, but so far it is working to perfection for England forward Alessia Russo.

The Manchester United player has come off the bench in all of the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 group matches and is now the joint-second top scorer at the tournament.

With four seamless goals, fans are referring to the 23-year-old as ‘Lessi’, likening her to Argentina footballer Lionel Messi – Often considered the best player in the world.

Russo has previously played for Chelsea, Brighton and Hove Albion and North Carolina Tar Heels, and has represented England at all age groups.

Born in Maidstone in Kent, Russo rose through the ranks to become a star in women’s football – before her mind-bending backheel goal helped the Lionesses smash Sweden out of Euro 2022 last night.

Russo is of Italian descent after her Sicilian grandfather moved to England in the 1950s. Her father Mario, played non-league football for the Met Police while her brother Giorgio played non-league for Ramsgate in Kent. Meanwhile, her youngest brother Luca attended the University of Missouri on a track and field scholarship.

After playing for Bearsted Girls under 10’s as a child, Russo began her career at Charlton Athletic’s centre of excellence before joining Chelsea’s development squad.

Alessia Russo has come off the bench in all of the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 group matches and is now the joint-second top scorer at the tournament

With four seamless goals, fans are referring to the 23-year-old as 'Lessi', likening her to Argentina football star Lionel Messi - Often regarded the best player in the world

With four seamless goals, fans are referring to the 23-year-old as ‘Lessi’, likening her to Argentina football star Lionel Messi – Often regarded the best player in the world

Russo is the home counties schoolgirl of Italian descent who became a child star in women's football - before her mind-bending backheel goal helped the Lionesses smash Sweden out of Euro 2022

Russo is the home counties schoolgirl of Italian descent who became a child star in women’s football – before her mind-bending backheel goal helped the Lionesses smash Sweden out of Euro 2022

After playing for Bearsted Girls under 10's as a child, Russo began her career at Charlton Athletic's centre of excellence before joining Chelsea's development squad

After playing for Bearsted Girls under 10’s as a child, Russo began her career at Charlton Athletic’s centre of excellence before joining Chelsea’s development squad

Russo posted a picture alongside her mother, father and brother on social media and captioned the image: 'Another special week'

Russo posted a picture alongside her mother, father and brother on social media and captioned the image: ‘Another special week’

England's footballers celebrate with fans after winning at the end of the Euro 2022 semi-final in Sheffield last night

England’s footballers celebrate with fans after winning at the end of the Euro 2022 semi-final in Sheffield last night

The England staff celebrate after victory in the Women's Euro 2022 Semi Final match against Sweden last night

The England staff celebrate after victory in the Women’s Euro 2022 Semi Final match against Sweden last night

Ellen White of England celebrates with the fans and family following her team's victory in Sheffield last night

Ellen White of England celebrates with the fans and family following her team’s victory in Sheffield last night

England's footballers celebrate with fans after winning at the end of the Euro 2022 semi-final in Sheffield last night

England’s footballers celebrate with fans after winning at the end of the Euro 2022 semi-final in Sheffield last night

Appearing once at a first-round Continental Cup match in 2016, Russo then moved on to Brighton on 5 February 2017, where she scored three goals in seven games.

Russo then moved to the United States in 2017, joining college soccer side North Carolina Tar Heels. She made an incredible 57 appearances in total before announcing she was gibing up her final year pf college in August 2020 due the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

She scored 28 goals in total and earned a United Soccer Coaches first-team All-America selection – becoming the first Tar Heel to make the first team since Crystal Dunn in 2013, and was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year. 

A month after leaving the US, Russo signed a two-year contract with her favourite club, Manchester United where she won her first senior international cap in the final game of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup.

In 2006, Russo was a mascot for her future United manager Casey Stoney, who was captain of Charlton Athletic while Russo was at the London club’s Centre of Excellence. 

In November 2021, Russo suffered a calf injury and posted an image to her Instagram telling fans: 'Tough times don’t last. Road to recovery has begun'

In November 2021, Russo suffered a calf injury and posted an image to her Instagram telling fans: ‘Tough times don’t last. Road to recovery has begun’

Alessia Russo came off the bench again to score the third in England's 4-0 mauling of Sweden last night

Alessia Russo came off the bench again to score the third in England’s 4-0 mauling of Sweden last night 

Russo was initially a training player, but was later added as an injury replacement for team member Lucy Bronze. 

She made her debut three days later as a half-time substitute in a 5–2 league victory over Birmingham City, registering an assist.

By October 2020, Russo was nominated for WSL Player of the Month – with three goals and one assist in three appearances.

At United, Russo has scored 12 times in 26 appearances as the club have established themselves as a force in the Women’s Super League. 

Last season, she seamlessly led the team in goals with 11 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions and was named the inaugural winner of the team’s Players’ Player of the Year award.

She scored her first international goals, a hat-trick in a national record 20–0 victory over Latvia during 2023 World Cup qualifying match and it was named the fastest by any England player in history coming out at 11 minutes in total. 

It also paved the way for her to be named in Sarina Wiegman’s England squad for UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

Last night, Wright likened Russo to Argentine great Lionel Messi, saying: ‘”Lessi”, not Messi, for what she [Russo] has done when she comes on. I don’t know what she has to do to start a game.

‘The improvisation is fantastic. When she came on she instantly made an impact. She links play. I’m not sure what more she needs to do to start.

‘When you look at Ellen White’s contribution over the years you can’t question it. But she hasn’t done enough in this tournament.

‘This girl [Russo] is doing it. I don’t think Wiegman will change it.’

Wiegman herself said: ‘You must have so much courage to do such an unpredictable and phenomenal thing like that, no one could react to it. That was so nice to watch.’

Many fans just could not get their heads around the Manchester United forward’s goal, with one Twitter user saying: ‘Just watching this on a loop for the next 5 days’

A second fan echoed the sentiment, adding: ‘That was ridiculous!!’

Another user added that it was likely the best goal we would see all year, simply stating: ‘Goal of the year.’

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