Eniola Aluko: Aston Villa appoint ex-England forward as women's sporting director

Eniola Aluko smiling and holding a microphone while working as a pitchside TV pundit
Aluko has been doing media work since retiring from playing football

Aston Villa Women have appointed former England forward Eniola Aluko as their first sporting director.

The 32-year-old, who retired as a player last week after spells at Birmingham City, Chelsea and Juventus, will oversee the club's women's team.

Villa are three points clear top of the Championship and are aiming for promotion to the Women's Super League.

"I feel it's something that I'm ready for at this point in my career," Aluko told the Villa website.

"I've always been passionate about the women's game, its development and setting cultures that drive excellence.

"I'll be helping to create a successful club in Aston Villa Women, and obviously I'm back home in Birmingham where it all started for me. I'm excited for this next step."

'She is an inspiration and inspiring role model'

A young Eniola Aluko playing for England
Aluko made her senior England debut as a 17-year-old

Aluko won 102 England caps and helped the Lionesses to third place at the 2015 Women's World Cup, as well as playing five times for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.

She is England's joint-10th most capped international, scoring 33 goals in 102 senior appearances.

But her last international appearance came in 2016, a year in which she made allegations of misconduct against then England boss Mark Sampson.

The Football Association apologised to Aluko in October 2017 for racially discriminatory remarks made by Sampson in 2014.

Domestically she helped Birmingham City win the 2012 FA Women's Cup and finish second in the Women's Super League that season before joining Chelsea for a second spell.

She helped them win WSL titles in 2015 and 2018, and was the club's top scorer in 2016.

Aluko moved to Juventus in June 2018 and scored one of the goals as they beat Verona to win the Serie A Women title in April 2019 before leaving the club last month.

"Eniola enjoyed a fabulous playing career and took her first steps in the game in this city, the city where she grew up," Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said.

"She is an inspiration and inspiring role model to young girls and women in Birmingham and will help Aston Villa to be an exemplar of women's and girl's football in the region."

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