Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo on making history, inspiring a generation and that viral backheel goal
Alessia Russo’s goal was as momentous as it was momentous. It is the first goal scored by an Australian women’s team in a FIFA competition – and has since inspired a new generation of girls to get up and score for their country.
In 2014, Russo scored the winner in the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 Championship in Japan. Australia went on to finish third in the tournament and play South Korea in the final.
It was a historic moment for both Australia and FIFA, and it was the first time Australia had won a women’s senior trophy – but in a different way.
When I was asked recently if I thought women’s football needed to be more like men’s football, I said there wasn’t an answer. There are not enough opportunities for girls to get the same experience as the boys who play at the professional level.
But when it comes to the senior women’s game, that answer has shifted. Russo was a role model for a generation of girls who took out their A-game every weekend – and she took the game to new levels.
This was the kind of career that was only possible when people saw it on social media. When she uploaded this Instagram video her goal, with the words “Come on girls!” emblazoned across the screen, it was something special.
There was an expectation of greatness then, and from the time she scored in the U-17s to now, it’s been the same. When people saw her doing the things she did, it was obvious she was special.
Then, once again, it was up to the young women to carry it on, and Russo’s mission began.
Russo, who was born in Sydney to Italian parents, started playing football at the age of five. “