Arsenal-linked Lioness Alessia Russo “I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be strong”

Arsenal-linked Lioness Alessia Russo “I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be strong” by Michelle

Lioness Alessia Russo features as the cover star in the summer issue of Women’s Health magazine. Russo was part of Lionesses squad that won Euro 2022 last summer and is part of Sarina Wiegman’s 23-strong England Women squad that will be heading to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, which is being co-hosted by Australia & New Zealand this summer.

Russo was subject to a world record-breaking bid from Arsenal in the January transfer window, but Manchester refused saying Russo “is not for sale at any price“. The 24 year old striker is now officially leaving Man United though her contract runs until 30th June. Russo has been heavily linked to a move to north London club Arsenal, but nothing can be confirmed until after her contract with United expires.

In an interview with Women’sHealth Alessia talked about her relationship with her body and food – which grew more problematic during the covid pandemic.

‘In lockdown, it was tough: I was training on my own, I was home and I lost quite a bit of weight. Then I signed for Man United soon after lockdown. And within about six weeks, I completely tore my hamstring, [which I] could only relate back to losing a lot of weight because I’ve never had a muscle injury before.’

The star became fixated on tracking her calories and macro-nutrients on an app during the lockdown.

‘I wanted to make sure I hit really high protein [levels], but it was also about really low calories. So [my diet] was high protein, but I was sacrificing all the carbs and the fats… and then that would be my calories for the day,’ she recalls.

‘And yeah, I used to track everything [on an app]. I know some people still use [it], but…I was at a low point with my food and with my weight. I wasn’t strong enough; I wasn’t robust. I thought I looked great… but really, on the football pitch, I wasn’t strong enough to compete.’

Russo also thinks that the issue of problematic relationships with food, among female athletes, might be a more significant problem than commonly perceived.

‘There’s a bit of a stigma because, of course, you want to compete and be the best on the pitch, but you want to look a certain way as well. As a lot of young girls [do],’ she explains.

‘I wanted to be skinny and compete at that kind of level. [Now] my body is still a huge priority. But I understand I need to eat a lot more than I thought I did at the start, and now I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be strong. Food plays a huge part in how you feel and how your body reacts.’

Personally, I think Alessia is a great role-model for every young footballing girl – being strong beats being skinny!

Hopefully this young star will be joining our Gunners before heading off to Australia & New Zealand for the Women’s World Cup. Arsenal Women have confirmed two new signings this week with Amanda Ilestedt and Cloe Lacasse joining the club. Do you think Alessia Russo will be Arsenal’s next announcement Gooners?


Michelle Maxwell
Follow Michelle on Just Gooner Women on Twitter for regular updates on the Arsenal Womens Team!

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  1. The last time I saw her play for England she looked very much slimmer, especially around her mid-region, so I assumed her weight loss was deliberate.

  2. The mistaken notion among, esp women, that its good to be thin, rather than simply lean but toned and fit, does so much harm to many individuals.

    Society is mostly to blame for claiming fatties are greedy and lazy. Sigh!
    Internalizing the silly and wrong society stigma, in so many areas of life, is such a dreadful handicap for some people and they do not deserve it.

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