The England and Chelsea forward reveals why the Man Untd powerhouse is her striking role model.
A lethal striker for club and country, Eniola Aluko has achieved a lot for a 20-year-old.
Scoring the winning goals in both The FA Women’s Cup and League Cup Finals for Charlton, leading the line for her country at the European Championship and World Cup – Aluko managed to fit in all that while studying for a law degree. So it’s natural that Aluko is most interested in players who have, like her, packed in quite a bit of achievement in their tender years.
When asked to name her England hero, Aluko responds: “Wayne Rooney – it’s the way he plays football. His aggression and passion, and the fact he started so young in the game but established himself so quickly.
“I remember when he scored against Arsenal in one of his first games for Everton. That curler when he beat David Seaman when he was 16 years old, that’s one of my first memories of him.
“I can relate to him in that way because I was playing for Charlton when I was 16.”
Being a forward herself, it’s no surprise that Aluko would choose someone who also deals in goals, but there’s something a little extra about Rooney that draws her in. “He’s all about passion,” she explains. The Manchester United forward’s ability and physical presence is without question, but Aluko believes that it is his ability to play without fear that sets Rooney apart.
“I remember when he played in Euro 2004 in Portugal, he scored vital goals and played with no fear.
“It’s difficult when you’re a youngster playing in big games. Everyone talks about experience and sometimes I think it’s overrated. Sometimes, if you have no fear, that can override experience.”
Rooney has often been compared to Paul Gascoigne for sheer natural ability, and Aluko also has a soft spot for the gifted midfielder.
“Gazza is another player I really enjoyed watching, for similar reasons to Wayne Rooney. Euro 96 was around the time I really started watching football. I loved his attitude on the pitch, football was in his blood and he always played with a smile on his face.”
But there can only be one true England hero for Aluko and he goes by the name of Wayne Rooney. “I remember seeing the first time he played at Old Trafford for Everton. He was only 16 and he skinned Gary Neville, one of the most experienced right-backs there is – he cut infield and was really unlucky not to score.
“It’s hard to believe he’s still so young, he has achieved so much and I know he’s got so much more to come in the future.”