Women’s Euro 2022 champions England should head to next year’s World Cup with confidence that they can win back-to-back major tournaments, says former Lioness Eni Aluko.
England shed the baggage of successive semi-final defeats with victory in the final against Germany in front of a record crowd of 87, 912 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Aluko believes they can now go toe to toe with holders USA, Olympic champions Canada and the best of Europe at the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“I think the legacy now is about winning. Once you win, once that monkey’s off your back, it begets winning and more winning,” Aluko told City A.M.
“That’s what nations like Germany are able to say – we’re winners – because they’ve won repeatedly. Now we can go to the World Cup and talk about winning as well.
“If you’re the European champions you absolutely should be confident that you can beat the likes of the US and Canada.
“I think the gap between Europe and the rest of the world has completely shrunk. Once upon a time the US were totally dominant; I don’t think that’s the case now.
“England should go into that tournament absolutely confident that they can go on and win the World Cup.”
Euros can be England’s USA ’99 moment, says Aluko
Aluko believes England’s success at the Euros can deliver a similar boost to women’s football in this country as USA’s 1999 World Cup win did to the game in North America.
“This can turbo-charge women’s football, but it was already on the upsurge anyway,” added the former forward, who scored 33 goals in 102 games for the Lionesses.
“Once upon a time we were asking for more investment and attention. Now there are going to be broadcasters and brands fighting for the rights.”
The next challenge, says the ex-Chelsea and Juventus star, is turning occasional England fans into avid followers of clubs in the Women’s Super League.
“I think that’s still a problem in the women’s game; we haven’t got consistency of gates,” she said. “I hope that now you’ll get people buying season tickets to watch Chelsea every week.”
Aluko believes the balance of power in club football has swung from the US to Europe, and that the English top division is competitive enough to justify expansion.
“I think the WSL at this point should increase,” she added. “We should see 15-20 teams in the league now, not just 12.”
Copa90, Angel City and Aluko’s dreams of owning a club
The 35-year-old is currently sporting director of LA-based Angel City, whose owners include actress Natalie Portman and tennis superstar Serena Williams.
But Aluko has dreams of owning or part-owning her own club in England, in part inspired by Amanda Staveley’s brokering of Newcastle takeover last year.
“Hopefully I can one day become an owner of a club myself. My dream would be to do it in England,” she said.
“I was really inspired by Amanda Stavely at Newcastle, what she did to bring so much investment to Newcastle. To see a woman do that was really inspiring. Watch this space.”
Before then she will be helping shape the work of fan-facing media company Copa90 as a board member and ambassador.
“One of the things I’m really passionate about is the role of former players on executive boards,” Aluko said.
“I was really keen to join up with Copa90 to advise on the next phase of storytelling particularly in the women’s game, and also to understand the business side of organisations in sport.
“I’m working at the executive level now and ensuring I’m constantly up with trends and understanding how I can contribute as well. I’m really excited about the role.”