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Alessia Russo exclusive: England forward hungry for more trophies and bigger crowds after Euro 2022 win

"My first major trophy makes me so hungry for more. I hope we see more fans in the stadiums at WSL games, that's what we want, we want to fill out stadiums week-in, week-out. Having 90,000 people at the final was amazing," Alessio Russo exclusively tells Sky Sports

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Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo is hoping the success of the Lionesses at Wembley will help attract more fans through the turnstiles for the new WSL season

Alessia Russo hopes England's historic Euro 2022 triumph is the catalyst for more trophies for club and country, and bigger crowds watching the women's game.

Manchester United forward Russo was one of England's stars of the tournament, scoring four goals - including a stunning backheel against Sweden in the semi-finals - as the Lionesses won a major international tournament for the first time.

England's memorable campaign culminated at Wembley on Sunday, where 87,192 fans - a record attendance for a men's or women's European Championship final - watched Sarina Wiegman's side overcome Germany 2-1 in extra-time, and the whole experience has left Russo "hungry for more".

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Reflecting on Euro 2022, she exclusively told Sky Sports News at the adidas Flagship Store London: "It's been amazing, my first major tournament. A lot of the girls were saying, 'It's not always like this!'

"The group we've had on this camp has been unbelievable. The talent has always been there in England, even the ones that don't play anymore that have retired, they're supporting us always and have paved the way for us to win those trophies.

adidas invited eight young aspiring footballers from Goals 4 Girls and East London Little Ladies to meet Alessia Russo, but also interview her
Image: adidas invited eight young aspiring footballers from Goals 4 Girls and East London Little Ladies to meet Russo and also interview her

"Everything about this team is special; the players, the staff, the support we were given really set us up for success."

Russo continued: "My first major trophy, it makes me so hungry for more. I hope we see more fans in the stadiums at WSL games, that's what we want, we want to fill out stadiums week-in, week-out.

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Image: Russo scored four goals and registered one assist at Euro 2022

"Having 90,000 people at the final was amazing and it's crazy to play in front of that many people but, at the same time, we want to see them week-in, week-out in the WSL.

"Hopefully this tournament has sparked new fans coming into the game. We've got a packed season with all the top teams and a lot of the England squad is playing in the WSL so there's lots of opportunities to see us much more regularly."

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Image: Russo celebrates with Manchester United team-mate Ella Toone

Russo salutes Wiegman

The mastermind behind England's historic victory was head coach Sarina Wiegman who, having guided the Netherlands to the Euro 2017 crown without losing a game, repeated the feat with England.

"She's amazing," Russo added. "Her record speaks for itself. To go through two major tournaments back-to-back without losing a game in the Euros is unbelievable.

"She's a winner, she knows how to win. She wants to win every day and she makes training so competitive which helps us when it comes to the game day. Off the pitch, she is so chilled. She's relaxed, she makes everyone around camp feel welcome and relaxed.

alessia russo
Image: Russo celebrates England's victory in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley

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England goalkeeper Mary Earps says that she wanted to take in all the emotions and enjoy every second of winning the Euros after a difficult couple of years

"In a major tournament like this, we didn't know what to expect coming out of it, we have really been in our bubble for the past month or so, not much of the media coming in and Sarina keeping it level-headed throughout.

"Coming out has been a little bit crazy but credit to her for keeping it that way throughout camp because we were so focussed on winning."

Russo's stellar tournament has given her the taste for more but before new objectives can be identified for club and country, a well-earned period of rest is in order.

"A bit of a break for sure, I'm going to go on holiday in the next few days," she replied when asked what her next steps were.

"We have two weeks off until we're back in with United. There's a pre-season tour and then straight back to the season. It's been an amazing summer but very much due a rest right now."

Wiegman: The tactician behind England's transformation

England

The stakes were high when Sarina Wiegman took on the England job in September 2021.

Never before had the FA appointed a women's manager with established international pedigree, let alone one with major tournament-winning credentials.

The risk was shared by all parties. The expectation was immediately heightened, and with only 10 short months to embed an entirely new philosophy ahead of a European Championship in the spotlight of home crowds, the decision had to be the correct one.

Wiegman herself had to weigh up leaving her Dutch homeland and a squad she had guided to continental success in 2017, in favour of managing abroad for the very first time and implementing her European strategy on a side that had only ever previously been overseen by English coaches - bar a brief interim period in 2021.

The appointment made her the first non-British permanent Lionesses manager, at a time where investment in the domestic game had outgrown the notion that England Women can compete at international tournaments, but were never really discussed as legitimate candidates for silverware.

That backdrop has changed significantly and yet Wiegman has remained completely unmoved by the demands of an expectant nation, starved of senior international footballing glory for 56 long years...until now.

Russo's 'backheel boots' to be displayed in the Tower of London

Alessia Russo hands over her boots to Yeoman Warder AJ Clark
Image: Russo hands over her boots to Yeoman Warder AJ Clark

Russo has delivered the adidas boots she wore while scoring one of the greatest tournament goals of all time to the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are housed, to be displayed alongside the nation's treasures.

The striker helped send England to the Euro 2022 final with an audacious backheel goal against Sweden

The green boots will be put on temporary display as a symbol not only of the nation's greatest sporting triumph for a decade, but one of the most memorable moments of skill ever seen on a football pitch.

They were handed by Russo to Yeoman Warder AJ Clark, only the second female 'Beefeater', and will sit inside the historic Martin Tower in a case which tells the story of her journey as one of the first women to become a Yeoman Warder. Yeoman Warders are the historic guards of the Tower of London and its treasures, tracing their roots back to 1485.

Key dates for the 2022/23 WSL season

  • Barclays Women's Championship opening weekend: August 20/21, 2022
  • Barclays Women's Super League opening weekend: September 10/11, 2022
  • FA Women's Continental League Cup final: March 4/5, 2023
  • Barclays Women's Championship final weekend: April 29/30, 2023
  • Vitality Women's FA Cup final: May 14, 2023
  • Barclays Women's Super League final weekend: May 27/28, 2023
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