Euro 2022 winner Alessia Russo on making history, inspiring a generation and that viral backheel goal
Alessia Russo was the surprise package at the World Cup last year, scoring two goals for Italy and earning the respect of her peers
This year the 24-year-old forward has become an integral part of the Italy backline and has been an integral part of the team’s progress since the Olympic quarter-finals
By Mark Lowen
It has come to be known as a backheel moment – and she knows exactly what she did while celebrating a goal in the final minute of the UEFA Euro 2020 final.
Alessia Russo was among the Italy fans in the stadium as their team defeated Portugal 3-2 in their final fixture as European champions to get their hands on the trophy.
The striker scored a goal from the corner flag in an extraordinary goal celebration that came after a penalty was awarded after Cristiano Ronaldo’s handball in the middle of the pitch.
When the final whistle blew, Russo leapt from the bench and ran onto the pitch before turning around and running the other way for the second time down the sideline, heading to the goalmouth.
Her timing was impeccable as she was just on time to convert a penalty awarded by Portugal’s Miguel Layun, which came moments after the defender had committed a foul in the penalty area. Alessia’s goal sealed Italy’s victory in the final, a victory that put them in pole position for the biggest stage in the sport.
Now her experience on the biggest stage of all comes into focus as Alessia enters her fourth year on the UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 qualifying campaign, having already experienced the world cup and the Olympic Games, but this was a career-defining run. “When you make history, you never know how many more times you will get to do it,” she said.
For all those moments of glory, there were also moments of frustration, including a missed penalty against England in the quarter-finals. There were times when she doubted herself – including moments when she got injured – but