Page 3 Profile: Eniola Aluko, footballer

 

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The Independent Online

From match-ready to camera-ready…

Not content with watching from the side-lines, Eniola Aluko has made history by becoming the first female pundit to feature on Match of the Day in the show’s 50-year history.

About time, too.

The Chelsea and England striker appeared on MOTD2 Extra on Sunday as a member of the panel alongside the veteran commentator John Motson and the former Everton player Kevin Kilbane. Aluko, who played at Wembley with Team GB during the London 2012 Olympics, has won 83 caps for England, scoring 26 goals.

In a league of her own?

Birmingham City manager Marcus Bignot has described her as “the Wayne Rooney of women’s football”. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, the 27-year-old moved to the UK with her family when she was one, and was raised in Birmingham. Aluko kicked off her career at Leafield Athletic Ladies FC, before going on to play for clubs including Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic in the UK and St Louis Athletica and Atlanta Beat in the United States. In addition to her football training, she has spent several years studying to become a lawyer, graduating from Brunel University in London with a First; her knowledge of contractual law came in handy last year when England’s women became embroiled in a pay dispute with the Football Association. She worked with the Professional Footballers’ Association to negotiate a better deal for the players. A love of the beautiful game runs in the family too: her younger brother Sone is a forward for Hull City. He has said of his sister: “She was always a couple of steps ahead…she went before me, she gave me the belief.”

Can she hold her own in the studio as well as on the pitch?

During the show she offered analysis on Diego Costa’s injury, praised Southampton’s strong performance, and discussed Frank Lampard’s success at Manchester City. She ranked Phil Jagielka’s goal in the Merseyside derby the best of the weekend but criticised Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, who was sent off for bringing down West Ham’s Stewart Downing with a kick: “There were four recovering defenders – there was no need for him to make that foul. There was no need for him to lash out like that,” she said. 

Will Aluko become a regular fixture on the programme?

“We were really pleased with Eni’s contribution on MOTD2 Extra and will speak to her about future appearances,” a spokeswoman for the BBC told i. Following the programme the footballer thanked viewers for their positive comments via Twitter and added: “I’m honoured to be the first ever female football pundit on MOTD . There’s a first for everything.”

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