Kent's new footballing hero Alessia Russo could be given freedom of Maidstone Borough

England's Alessia Russo scores their side's third goal of the game during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 semi-final match. Credit: PA Images

Kent has a new footballing hero as Alessia Russo helped England to reach the Women's Euros final on Tuesday night.

Her backheel goal won over plenty of fans in her hometown of Maidstone, that could see her be given freedom of the Borough.

Alessia plays for Manchester United but grew up playing alongside her brothers in a boys team before joining Bearsted. This was where she was spotted to play for Charlton as a youth, before being scouted for Chelsea and going on loan to Brighton.

All eyes are now on Alessia and the team, to see if the Lionesses can make history this Sunday.

Since her jaw-dropping nutmeg goal, there have been calls for the 23-year-old to feature in the starting 11.

Speaking after the match, Alessia said: "Well to be fair I could have made it a lot easier on myself if I'd just scored the first one but yeah, I mean, it fell nicely and I don't really remember too much it, I just thought that it was the quickest route to get it into the back of the net."

It is hoped Alessia's performance has helped to inspire younger generations of female footballers.

Residents in Maidstone react to Alessia's goal in the semi-final match

Rebecca Moore Women & Girls Development Officer, Kent FA said the win is a "chance to rewrite history", adding that they will "try not to go back to the 2009 final, if they can help it."

She said: "What an icon for the girls, I mean, for someone particularly coming from a county that doesn't have the best geographic set up in terms of access to RTCs and elite pathways, it shows just how achievable it is for these girls, so they really do have a relatable role model in her. She's a fantastic person and she's had fantastic performances, which hopefully carry on into the final."

"It's key not to lose momentum. We've got to look at how to create opportunities and new provisions for women and girls, for those that not only want to play football but for those that want to get involved in the game, whether that be supporting grassroots, coaching or refereeing. There's so many roles we can support and help grow the game."

Councillor Derek Mortimer, Mayor of Maidstone said: "I was there watching it. I jumped out of my chair when she scored the goal and I think we ought to frame it and get it up in the museum and say 'look at this Russo girl, how wonderful she is'".

"She's put Maidstone on the map now and, as I say, it's so inspiring for everybody, it's wonderful."

Councillor Mortimer said he can ask for Alessia to be granted freedom of the Borough.

He said: "If I find the right person and get the right people on board, then I can certainly look at it, no problem!"