- Alessia Russo was voted into the FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World 11 by her fellow professionals for the first time
- FIFPRO caught up with the Arsenal and England forward to get her reaction after being named in the team of the year
- "You win trophies with your peers, so to gain their recognition and their respect on the way is special," says Russo
Alessia Russo’s goalscoring exploits on the international scene has propelled her into world football’s elite. It started with the UEFA Women's EURO in England’s summer of 2022, where she bagged four goals – her strike against Sweden in the semi-finals was voted goal of the tournament – as the Lionesses roared to their first continental crown.
Russo then announced herself to the global stage at the 2023 Women’s World Cup where she was one of the tournament’s most potent attacking threats with three goals, including the winner against Colombia in the quarter-finals, as she helped England to their first Women’s World Cup final.
Her fellow professional footballers recognised her contributions to the game and voted Russo into the 2023 FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World 11 for the first time. FIFPRO caught up with Russo at The Best FIFA Football Awards to talk about her debut World 11, the influence of senior England players such as Lucy Bronze and Mary Earps, and how the unwavering support of family and friends has helped her reach the top.
FIFPRO: Alessia, congratulations on making the world team of the year. How does it feel to be for the first time in the FIFA FIFPRO World 11?
Alessia Russo: It feels incredible. It's something that means so much, especially being voted for by players. As any player would say, those are the opinions that mean the most; they are the people that you work with every day and you want to please, and they want to please you, so it’s really special coming from them. You win trophies with your peers and you're on super crazy journeys with them all, so to gain their recognition and their respect on the way is special.
You're in the World 11 with your England team-mate Mary Earps. How important is Mary's presence in a team and what does she bring to a side?
Her presence is massive. She is one of the most driven people I've ever worked with and her standards are sky high. She’s an incredible player and person and I think her development in the past couple of years has been so cool to watch. To be on the journey with her, it's something that I take inspiration from. She’s a true leader.
This is Lucy Bronze's sixth time in the Women’s World 11, something that very few players have ever achieved. What's Lucy like as a player and what is she like as a person?
Lucy, as a player, is one of the most hard-working people I've worked with. She’s someone who is super professional all the time and so driven. She’s someone that I've looked up to for a long time. I'm very grateful that I get to play in the same team as her. She’s the same as a player and as she is a person. She’s also a super intelligent person and someone that you would lean on if you needed advice. She’s always there to guide you through, and first and foremost, Lucy is a top professional.
You've had what appears to be a fairytale career so far. How have you managed things off the field to keep it steady along the journey?
It’s very important to have good people around you. I'm super close with my friends and family and to be on the journey with them means a lot, but also you lean on them through the good times and the bad. They see the tough days and the dark times, when you go through injuries or different things like that. They are on the journey with you the whole way. So, I think for me to have that support system away from football, but also where, for them, you are their sister or their daughter and you're not the football player, it's really nice to just be able to go home and switch off from everything.
What have you learned based on recent experiences for club and country and what advice would you give to younger players?
I've learned that you can never miss an opportunity. I think that the past two summers we’ve (England) had have been incredible tournaments and ones that have been of the highest levels. You've got to enjoy it first and foremost because those experiences don't come around every day. You can’t take anything for granted because anything can happen and the standard of the game right now is so high that anyone can beat anyone. It’s important to never miss an opportunity, but also important to make sure you enjoy the journey.