But as the dust fades from the Lionesses’ historic 2-1 win at Wembley on Sunday, Russo insists this is “just the beginning” for her team and what she hopes will be a bright future for women’s football in England.
The Euro 2022 final was played in front of 87,192 spectators – a rallying record for a European Championship final, men’s or women’s, while 17.4 million people across the UK watched the match on television, according to the BBC.
“This is just the beginning now for us, I think,” Russo adds. “We want to fill the pitches every week, of course we do, but we have to be realistic and know it’s a process to get there.”
“We just want to see more people fall in love with the game and embrace the idea that women’s football is amazing. The United States set the bar, but now the teams are catching up and that’s really exciting.”
The ground advantage meant that England were among the favorites to win the 2022 European Championship long before the ball was kicked, and expectations only increased after a landslide 8-0 win over Norway in the group stages.
“I think the media put pressure on us as soon as they found out it was a championship on their soil, but there wasn’t any pressure inside,” Russo says.
“We’ve been really good at keeping the bubble pretty much closed and so focused on the matches…From day one, we wanted to win the tournament, but at the same time, we knew we had to shut down the entire outside world.
“We didn’t even know how crazy it was, and it turned out to be 10 times crazier than we all thought… We just focused on training and enjoying each other’s company, then we stopped working and then we go again.”
Also helping, says Russo, was the influence of coach Sarina Wegmann, who has yet to lose a match with England, nor the European Women’s Championship after also leading the Netherlands to victory in 2017.
“I think we all love to play under her,” Russo says. “She feels really cool about it. She’s very relaxed, off the court and even on the sidelines. She doesn’t feel too hot or at the moment – she’s very well-balanced.”
The 23-year-old Russo has been used as a substitute largely throughout her England career and has been brought off the bench in all six tournament matches at Euro 2022.
“I don’t think I’ll ever score like that again,” Russo says. “I think it was just a one-time wonder, but I’ll accept it.”
“I saw my old team I grew up in playing – they were all training in rehearsals, and that was great,” adds Russo.
“And if it’s a goal or something else, it’s good to see that women’s soccer is making a mark on the world and on young boys and girls. If you inspire one person to go out and play soccer, I’ll make it.”
Watch the goal – and the wild celebrations that ensue – and it’s hard not to be inspired by Rousseau and the lionesses.
The future of women’s football in England looks bright, but before Russo begins to think about what he might hold, she has more immediate priorities.
“There’s definitely a holiday coming up,” she says. “The past few months have been great, but I’m very stressful and need a little break.”