Russo explains thinking during backheel goal
Manchester United Women forward Alessia Russo has given us the inside scoop on what it was like to score that iconic backheel for England in the Euro 2022 semi-final against Sweden.
Speaking as a special guest on the brand-new episode of the UTD Podcast, which you can listen to now in the United App, Russo was asked about the famous moment, before the Lionesses went on to lift the trophy at Wembley just a few days later.
As well as covering that, the episode is a brilliant insight into Alessia’s journey so far on and off the pitch, in which she speaks about her upbringing, battling back from injuries, signing for United and much more, including the Reds’ upcoming Old Trafford game this weekend.
As she prepares to perform on the big stage once again, Russo revisits the summer and that night of her backheel goal against Sweden with our podcast co-hosts Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May.
The 23-year-old was introduced as a second-half substitute with England 2-0 up and on their way to the final, there was a party atmosphere at Bramall Lane and less than 10 minutes after coming on to the pitch, she created a moment that will go down in English football folklore.
Having seen an initial effort saved, the striker produced a moment of instinctive brilliance upon retaining possession, flicking the ball past a covering defender and through the goalkeeper's legs before it found the net.
“In the build-up to it, I had a chance first and missed the first chance, so I could have made it a lot easier for myself, if I would have just scored that,” Alessia explained when asked what she was thinking at the time of the goal.
“I just reacted and thought I’ve got to do something about that because I should have just scored an open goal basically, but the keeper saved it and it fell right back to me. As I got to the ball, I was just backwards to the goal and I don’t know what came upon me, but I just backheeled it! I’ll probably never do it again, but I was glad it was in the semi-final.”
Another look at that Alessia Russo goal? Oh, go on then. 😍— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 26, 2022
Live: https://t.co/zg8cPsrbEf#BBCFootball #BBCEuros pic.twitter.com/9y7bdKLZ5r
The effort all-but sealed England’s spot in the final – which they would of course go on to triumph in against Germany – and was later named Euro 2022’s Goal of the Tournament.
The magnitude of the goal could be felt just seconds after the ball hit the back of the net too, with clips quickly going viral across social media. Alessia explains in the podcast that she didn’t quite realise the significance and the X factor of the goal straight away.
“Not at the time in the game because I didn’t see how it went in. I had no idea. I just hit it and then suddenly everyone was celebrating. It wasn’t until I watched it back,” she said on the podcast.
“I’d knock around and joke about in training with a backheel but never actually do it. I think we were just given a lot of freedom to play your own game in the Euros, which was really cool.
“I probably wouldn’t have tried it otherwise.”
“Right after the tournament, I thought it had sunk in and you look back on it now like it was an incredible summer. It felt like a long time that we were there, but when you look at it, it was over in a blink.
Alessia Russo - “The game has changed”podcast
In this unmissable episode, United Women striker Alessia Russo discusses the experience of playing for the Reds, previews the upcoming WSL match against Aston Villa at Old Trafford, and reveals exactly what it is like to win the Euros with England. Sam Homewood, David May and Helen Evans chat to Alessia about her football journey, the monumental shift in women's football over the last decade, and why it is important for that growth to continue. Russo reveals her sporting idols and discusses her hobbies and pastimes too, as you get to know what Alessia is like, away from simply scoring bags of goals on the pitch.
“[The celebrations] were fun. We had friends and family come back to the hotel we stayed at, we had a live band, and everyone was on the dancefloor.
“It was really good. It was special.”
You can listen to more from Alessia Russo in her episode of the official UTD Podcast via the United App now.