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Alessia Russo reflects on growing fame since Euro 2022 triumph

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Manchester United and England star Alessia Russo has insisted that fame has not changed her in the wake of her starring role at Euro 2022 and increasing prominence as one of the face of the WSL.

Russo had a breakout season with United in 2021/22, scoring nine times in the WSL, before going on to play every game as England won Euro 2022 – her semi-final backheel goal against Sweden has even been nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award.

Despite, suffering an injury in October, the 23-year-old has also gone from strength to strength since returning to club duty and is United’s top scorer with five WSL goals – including another in her team’s 6-0 demolition of Liverpool on Sunday.

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Even with things like an appearance on Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast under her belt, Russo insists that she doesn’t feel any different in herself and is determined to stay that way.

“No. That’s what I find weird about it all,” Russo told Forbes when asked if fame has changed her.

“I still see myself as Alessia. I grew up in a little town. My family are so close to me, I think that’s a credit to all of them, and myself I guess,” she added.

“I’m a very light-hearted kind of person, but I have really high expectations. Even awards like [the Puskas], it still feels weird to be nominated.

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“I hope to go on and achieve a lot more than just this. As a female footballer and just the person I am, I have to stay grounded and have bigger dreams to fill. You don’t ever really have a chance to get ahead of yourself.”

As things stand, Russo is due to be out of contract and could find herself the most in demand free agent on the market come the summer. But United are still working hard to tie her to a new contract, having already agreed fresh terms with Ella Toone this season, although whether or not the club reaches the Champions League for the first time could eventually come into it.

After the latest round of fixtures, United sit second in the WSL table, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference, only three points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand, a three-point cushion over Manchester City and arguably the most favourable remaining fixtures of any of the top four.



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EPL

Christian Benteke Hints at January Transfer as He Targets Spot in Belgium’s Euro 2020

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Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke could be set to leave Selhurst Park in the upcoming January transfer window in a bid to boost his chances of making Belgium’s Euro 2020 squad.

The 28-year-old joined Palace from Liverpool in a club-record move in August 2016 but has found regular first-team football hard to come by in recent months as his form has suffered. The former ​Aston Villa forward has amassed only 267 minutes in the Premier League so far in the 2019/20 season and has yet to find the back of the net. 

The Belgium international has only scored one goal since the start of the 2018/19 season – coming in a 3-2 victory over Arsenal in April – but was rewarded with a contract extension in October 2019 in order to protect his transfer market value as one of Palace’s highest earners. 

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Instead, Jordan Ayew has often been preferred for the Eagles, while Benteke – who has 70 Premier League goals in his career – has been left sidelined.

Despite his limited outings as a club footballer, Benteke still features semi-regularly for Belgium and scored twice against Cyprus in the Euro 2020 qualifiers over the international break.

In an interview with ​La Derniere Heure, the striker that he could leave the ​Eagles in an attempt to find more regular first-team opportunities. 

“Playing for your club is always different from the national team. I hope the Cyprus game will give me my confidence back and give me the chance to score for Palace,” Benteke told the French publication.

“But I also have to think about the January transfer window. I will give it some thought and I’ll see what can be done. It is important to have playing time for your club, but what you do on national duty is also important.

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“I really want to play at Euro 2020. I work like a madman every day with that target in mind”. 

Benteke faces strong national team competition from strikers such as Liverpool’s Divock Origi, ​Internazionale’s Romelu Lukaku, ​Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi and ​Napoli’s Dries Mertens. 

Crystal Palace look set for a busy January transfer window as they are reportedly ​looking to sign up to three players, with Hodgson desperately looking to ease the workload of players like Ayew and Wilfried Zaha by adding further offensive reinforcements. 

Crystal Palace return to Premier League action as they host league leaders ​Liverpool on Saturday before travelling to Turf Moor to face a tough ​Burnley side a week later.



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Euros

UK & Ireland confirm stadiums for Euro 2028 bid

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The FA have confirmed that the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland have submitted a ‘preliminary bid dossier’ in their campaign to host Euro 2028, with 14 stadiums nominated to host matches.

The five nations have long been touted to make a bid for a major tournament, with the 2030 World Cup first suggested.

Instead, they are making a run to host Euro 2028 instead, with an official statement confirming the bid released on Wednesday.

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“The UK & Ireland Bid to host UEFA EURO 2028 has today submitted our Preliminary Bid Dossier – a key moment in UEFA’s campaign process,” the statement read.

“The bid sets out our clear and compelling vision for UEFA EURO 2028: ‘Football for all. Football for good. Football for the future’.

“Key to this vision is a commitment to diversity, social purpose and innovation in delivering an outstanding UEFA EURO 2028 that will create unforgettable memories in sold-out, iconic stadia in famous football cities known throughout the world.

“We are delighted that Government Partners of the UK, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and officials in Northern Ireland, support this bid.

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“Together, we believe we can deliver a world-class tournament, and that hosting UEFA EURO 2028 will achieve a strong and sustainable legacy for football and wider society, helping to drive economic growth in local communities.

“Working with UEFA, our plan is to host a tournament that will be a catalyst for transformational grassroots football development – with a promise to share legacy initiatives with European National Associations to accelerate growth across the continent.

“The UK and Ireland’s track record of hosting successful major sporting events over many decades means we have the expertise and experience to take this world-class tournament to new heights.

“Our compact plan and pioneering, multi-partner collaboration can usher in a new era for the EURO. Through the latest digital and marketing innovations, we will help UEFA and its partners engage new audiences and the world’s youth to extend the impact and reach of the tournament further than ever before.”

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14 stadiums have been included in the bid, with the majority of them coming from England.

Of England’s nine nominated stadiums, three of them are in London – Wembley Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and London Stadium. Villa Park, Old Trafford, Etihad Stadium, St James’ Park, Stadium of Light and Everton’s new stadium are also part of the bid.

Two Irish stadiums – Aviva Stadium and Croke Park – feature in the bid, as does Casement Park Stadium in Northern Ireland.

Scotland’s Hampden Park and Wales’ Principality Stadium complete the bid.

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