Sealing Arsenal move before World Cup is ‘weight off’ Alessia Russo's shoulders | The Sun

ALESSIA RUSSO says having her Arsenal move wrapped up before the World Cup feels like a weight off her shoulders. 

And the England star, 24, is enjoying proving a former coach wrong after he joked she “couldn’t head a ball for sh**”. 

The WSL ace and the Lionesses arrived in Brisbane, Australia on Monday ahead of the Group D opening duel with Haiti on July 22. 

That clash comes 18 days after the former Red Devil signed for Arsenal as a free agent. 

Russo, who joined the Gunners after a three-year Manchester United spell, said: “I’m really glad it’s all done. 

“It feels like a little bit of a weight is off my shoulders ahead of the World Cup and that’s what I wanted. 

“I hoped to try and get it all sorted before the tournament kicked off. 

“Now I can fully focus on this World Cup and after that head into Arsenal. I’m really excited.”

Russo, who began her senior career at Chelsea in 2016, is arguably one of the Gunners’ biggest signings this summer. 

And the Kent-born Lioness featured in a video welcoming Declan Rice to Arsenal. 

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The video, produced by the club’s kit makers Adidas, went viral on social media. 

When asked if there would be any banter from her Man United pals in England’s camp over move, Russo said they will “always be friends”. 

She added: “I’m still best mates with them all and I always will be. 

“It’s nice to have this summer and have some time with them again. We’re just all enjoying Australia.”

Russo’s involvement in a World Cup tournament for the first time in her career comes after her netting 10 goals in 20 WSL games last term. 

One of her most memorable was a headed effort last November that led to Man United becoming the first WSL team to beat Arsenal at the Emirates. 

And Russo, who has earned plaudits for her aerial displays in the box, recalls her former coach Anson Dorrance jokingly mocked her heading abilities. 

The former US Women’s national team boss, who led the side to their first World Cup win, coached Russo during her two-year stint at North Carolina Tar Heels. 

The Lioness spent some of her teenage years at the US college side renowned for spotting and nurturing rising stars of the women's game

Like Russo, Lucy Bronze and Lotte Wubben-Moy, are also former Tar Heels players. 

The trio flourished under Dorrance who has been in charge of the North Carolina University team for 46 years.

Russo, who played for Tar them from 2017 to 2019, added: “When I was in America my coach out there told me that I couldn’t head a ball for shit. 

“That was something that I wanted to prove him wrong with.

“I’ve still got a long way to go, but yeah I think physicality is a huge thing as a nine. “You’ve got to be strong, you’ve got to be powerful. 

“Some centre halves are bigger and stronger than you so you’ve got to find ways to get one up on them.”

On whether she is still in contact with legendary Tar Heels boss Dorrance, Russo said: “I still speak to Anson and his assistant Damon Nahas.

“I probably speak to them maybe once a month. It’s nice to check in with them and they played a big part in my journey and my career. 

“They’re coaches I have huge respect for and love to speak to.”

Russo is eager to keep developing the physical aspect of her game in particular her strength for duels with her markers.

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The WSL ace, who has scored 11 times in 21 senior England appearances, added: “Understanding my body and how to use it best, and then just trying to be as clinical as possible in front of goal. 

“As a nine that’s something you want to work on every single day.”

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