Eniola Aluko is relishing the challenge of turning Aston Villa Women into the best team in the Midlands after joining the club as Sporting Director of Women’s Football.
The former England international called time on her glittering career last week and will take a short break before beginning her new post in March.
After a playing career that has seen her win four league titles, 102 caps for her country and taken her to three World Cups and two European Championships, Aluko is ready to throw herself into a new venture.
“The team have done fantastically well this season, being unbeaten in the league and clear at the top of the table,” she said.
“Hopefully they’ll secure promotion to the Women’s Super League at the end of the season and then it’s about saying, ‘where do we want to go?’.
“We want to establish a culture of excellence and high standards so that the players come in every day and are excited about being elite footballers.”
Aluko has recently completed a two-year UEFA Masters for International Players, focusing on football administration and the business side of the game, in preparation for her career after playing.
And having experienced elite environments at Juventus and Chelsea as a player, Aluko will be setting the same high standards as Aston Villa Women look to become one of the leading clubs in the country.
She said: “For Aston Villa Women, it’s about setting our objectives high and establishing ourselves as the best club in the Midlands.
“From my point of view, it’s also about establishing a culture of excellence that I’ve experienced as a player.
“The owners are very serious about and committed to making sure that Aston Villa Women are in the best position to be the dominant side in the Midlands and an established side in the Women’s Super League.
“It’s really important that you have an ownership group that understands what it takes to establish a Women’s side in that ilk.”
Bringing through homegrown players has been a major source of pride for the club over recent years, producing a steady stream of players that are plying their trade in the top two divisions of women’s football.
Having grown up in Birmingham herself, Aluko is keen to maintain and expand the club’s focus on giving opportunities to local players.
“The DNA for the Women’s team is bringing through young players, bringing through Brummie players,” she said.
“We see Jack Grealish leading the Villa side for the men – he’s one of our own, he’s a Brummie. We want to make sure that’s part of the development for the Women, bringing through young players who are local to the club.
“We want to inspire young girls to say, ‘I want to play for the Aston Villa first team one day’.”
- Aluko appointed Sporting Director for Women’s Football
- Eniola Aluko: The journey to Aston Villa