Alessia Russo has admitted that she used to watch clips of Thierry Henry goals growing up due to the former Arsenal forward’s ability to cut inside, and is now inspired by the penalty box movement of Erling Haaland.
Like Henry, Russo started out as a winger, and has been deployed both out wide and as a central striker during her two years at Manchester United.
The 23-year-old was utilised exclusively as a number nine during Euro 2022, and is expected to step into the role of England’s first choice striker following the retirement of Ellen White. When it comes to being lethal in and around the penalty area, Russo highlighted her admiration for Haaland.
“I used to watch all of Henry’s old clips on YouTube,” Russo The Times. “He’s a goalscorer. He gets in the right positions, he’s so clinical.
“Now I love watching Erling Haaland. I know he’s a Manchester City player but he’s unbelievable. I like watching both Henry and Haaland. I grew up playing on the wing and I liked watching Henry cutting in. I like cutting in and getting a shot off but as I get older I realise that most chances are going to come inside the 18-yard box. Haaland scores all his goals from clever movements off the back of the centre half and creates half a yard for a finish.
“I used to love watching Wayne Rooney. He was a No 9, played with his heart on his sleeve. He was just aggressive, passionate, scored goals.”
Russo shot to national fame at Euro 2022 with four goals from the bench – including an audacious back heel against Sweden in the semi-finals to stunt the Swede’s momentum and put the game beyond their reach. The finish received plaudits from goal scoring greats Kelly Smith and Abby Wambach.
“That was the best part for me, to have praise from players like Abby Wambach and Kelly Smith, who I used to grow up watching play,” Russo added. “For Abby to comment on it was a cool moment for me because she was an unbelievable striker. But people started to ask me if I could do loads of tricks and skills but I’m definitely not one of those players! The back-heel was a one-off!”