Eni tells us how she aims to emulate Ronaldinho and what George Best means to her.
In her fourth feature for TheFA.com, England and Charlton striker Eniola Aluko reflects on a hectic 11 months both on and off the field.
In the weeks approaching Christmas I find myself reviewing the past eleven months, having to take a deep breath.
Personally, I feel 2005 has been a vital year for both myself and women’s football in general.
The European Championships in the summer were integral in attracting more interest to the game, changing negative attitudes and more importantly increasing confidence within the team.
The manner in which we competed with some of the best teams in the world raised eyebrows amongst audiences at home and saw a change for the good in attitudes towards the women’s game.
The attendance of 70,000 people throughout the three group games demonstrates the positive change. I still have to pinch myself when I think of the amount of people who were present at our games. Hopefully these attendance figures will have set a precedent for the World Cup qualifying home fixtures to come in early 2006.
Six months since the tournament ended, we remain unbeaten, with the team playing with instilled confidence from Euro 2005, knowing we can compete with the best in the world.
We recently finished the year with a vital away win against Holland, which puts us top of the group with nine points. The 1-0 result was ground out in difficult conditions yet we left with the three points that we needed.
At all levels of football it is always a good sign when the team grinds out a result in a difficult game. We can now all have a great Christmas knowing that we are where we wanted to be, at the start of the campaign.
I am currently tirelessly working hard to complete my university assignments by Christmas. I always used to think that around the Christmas period, lecturers and teachers would take it easy on their students. Well I thought wrong!
However I am not complaining, as I am thoroughly enjoying studying Law and the everyday ins and outs of being a student.
My experience of taking my A-level exams during the European Championships taught me that planning is important, especially when you have high demands both on the educational and sporting front.
My lifestyle this year has been interesting to say the least, with my involvement in the Euros, taking my A-levels, starting my Law degree and playing with Charlton.
However, I would not want this any other way because I feel I can always concentrate on many interests rather than get over-powered by one.
These days, when I have a bad game I try as much as possible not to dwell on it and concentrate on transferring energy into doing something different like an assignment.
Weekends like the last, where the nation heard news of the death of George Best, makes me appreciate my life even more.
When I watched clips of George on television this week, I stood in awe at the ease in which he used to pass players. The scenes at Upton Park at the weekend, which saw fans of both teams applaud rather than keep silence for a minute, demonstrated how much of a celebrated legend he is and will always be.
Players nowadays should strive to emulate the skill level which George had.
I feel Ronaldinho is one of the players in today’s game who has a similar level of skill, which will be remembered in years to come. Some of his ball skills almost defy the laws of physics!
I was delighted to see him collect the European player of the year accolade, which I think he thoroughly deserves as he entertains both home and away fans in all the games he plays. I am a huge fan of his and frequently try to copy his skills, which I have to say takes a lot of time and effort!
It was also great to see two English players, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, in second and third place.
Hopefully I will be successful in pulling off a Ronaldinho like skill in the game against Birmingham this weekend.
It is always special playing against my old club who have come through some hard times this season. I sincerely hope they have a good season.
It is important that we continue our winning form. It is excellent to see the team scoring many goals and not conceding any, having scored 14 goals for and none against in the last two league games.
The title race is very tight at the moment and could come down to goal difference in deciding who turns out champions, so scoring goals and keeping clean sheets is vital.
Hit the site next week to see results of the Women’s Premier League. Also, if you have any questions you want to send to me, please email Editor@TheFA.com and I’ll gladly respond.
Catch you soon
Eni's Next Game:
Charlton Athletic V Birmingham City
FA Nationwide Women's Premier League
2.00pm, Sunday 4 December 2005