From match-ready to camera-ready…
Not content with watching from the sidelines, Eniola Aluko has made history by becoming the first female pundit on Match of the Day in the show’s 50-year run.
About time, too.
The Chelsea and England striker appeared on MOTD2 Extra alongside the veteran commentator John Motson and the former Everton player Kevin Kilbane. Aluko, who played at Wembley with Team GB during the Olympics, has won 83 caps for England, scoring 26 goals.
In a league of her own?
Birmingham City manager Marcus Bignot has described her as “the Wayne Rooney of women’s football”. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, the 27-year-old moved to the UK with her family when she was one, and was raised in Birmingham. Aluko kicked off her career at Leafield Athletic Ladies FC, before playing for Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic in the UK and St Louis Athletica and Atlanta Beat in the US.
In addition to her football training, she graduated with a First in law from Brunel University; her knowledge of contractual law came in handy last year when she negotiated with the FA for a better pay deal for England’s women. A love of the beautiful game runs in the family: her younger brother Sone is a forward for Hull City. He has said of his sister: “She was always a couple of steps ahead… she went before me, she gave me the belief.”
Can she hold her own in the studio as well as on the pitch?
She offered analysis on Diego Costa’s injury, praised Southampton’s performance, and discussed Frank Lampard’s success at Manchester City. She ranked Phil Jagielka’s goal in the Merseyside derby the best of the weekend but criticised Rooney, who was sent off for bringing down West Ham’s Stewart Downing: “There were four recovering defenders – there was no need for him to make that foul. There was no need for him to lash out like that,” she said.
Will Aluko become a regular fixture on the programme?
“We were really pleased with Eni’s contribution on MOTD2 Extra and will speak to her about future appearances,” a BBC spokeswoman told i. The footballer thanked viewers for their positive comments via Twitter and added: “I’m honoured to be the first ever female football pundit on MOTD.”