Eni Aluko: 5 things to know about Angel City FC’s new Sporting Director

Eni Aluko

Former England and Chelsea legend Eni Aluko has been appointed Angel City FC’s new Sporting Director.

The 34-year-old joins the club after a successful spell as Aston Villa’s Director of Women’s Football.

Aluko will play a key role in the development of the Los Angeles based side –– focusing on roster management, recruitment strategy and shaping the team’s culture and philosophy, ahead of their induction into the National Women’s Soccer League in 2022.

Speaking of her excitement at taking on this new role, Aluko said: “The opportunity to join the club as its first sporting director was unmissable and something that I had to do.

“To join a majority female-owned soccer team by icons I’ve been loved and inspired by, like Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, Abby Wambach, the list is endless. I’ve grown up admiring them [so] it was just a dream and a once in a lifetime moment for me.”

For fans and neutrals who are not familiar with Aluko’s legacy, here are five facts about the ex forward that you need to know:

Named in top 100 most influential Black Britons

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Aluko represented England at international level but considers herself as much Nigerian as British.

Named in the 2020 Powerlist as one of the top 100 most influential Black Britons, the now Sporting Director wants to create an all-encompassing culture at Angel City.

“I want to build a diverse and inclusive team that is globally visible… and is loved by the community,” she stressed.

Aluko

Has a masters in Sporting Directorship

Having joined Aston Villa in 2020 as the Director of Women’s Football, Aluko spent just over a year at the Women’s Super League side.

However, despite being more than qualified for the job, with a masters in Sporting Directorship, the former player admitted that “there was no module for COVID,” forcing her to learn a lot on the job.

The pandemic meant that Aluko had little time to implement her vision at Villa, but things will be different at City.

“I think for me one of the main things in my job is the recruitment of players and I think I have a huge advantage with Angel City because of the time we have on our hands.”


Has played in the US before

Though she spent a large part of her career at Chelsea, Aluko also spent a few years in the US, joining Saint Louis Athletica in 2009 to play in the Women’s Professional Soccer league.

In her inaugural season, the forward led the team’s goal-scoring chart with six and added four assists as well.

When Saint Louis folded, the then 23-year-old joined Atlanta Beat and was later traded to Sky Blue FC in 2010.

Asked if her time in America has helped prepare her for the job, Aluko said it’s helped her “understand the journey of where the league is at now,”

“I’m excited because there’s lessons I’ve got from my playing time, but there’s obviously new ground to break in the future.”

Aluko

Over 100 international appearances

First called into the England set-up when she was just 14, Aluko made 102 appearances for the Lionesses, scoring 33 goals.

In an international career that spanned 12 years, the Nigerian born attacker played at three World Cups, two European Championships and represented Britain at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Aluko revealed today she wants to look all over the world for players and this could include some familiar Lioness faces.

“That’s the fun part of my role,” she emphasised. “So yeah, you might see some English representation. Watch this space.”


First-class degree in Law

Aside from her credentials as a Sporting Director, Aluko also has a first-class degree in Law from Brunel University.

Football commitments caused the England star to take a step back from her legal career, though the skills acquired will no doubt stand her in good stead.

Indeed, the 34-year-old is intelligent, experienced and passionate about women’s football. With these three traits, the future of Angel City looks bright.

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