England striker and European Champion, Alessia Russo, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Canterbury Christ Church University, in recognition of her sporting achievements and her role in raising awareness and creating a legacy for women’s sports in the UK and around the world.

The Maidstone-born footballer was part of the record-breaking Lionesses who inspired the nation last year with their win at the biggest-ever UEFA Women’s EUROs, hosted on home soil. Not only did the team win their first ever major trophy, beating Germany in a final at Wembley with the biggest ever crowd recorded for a Euro’s final (men’s and women’s), but the Lionesses also spent the whole of 2022 unbeaten.

Alessia herself was the third top scorer in the Championship with 4 goals and 1 assist - not forgetting her iconic back-heal goal against Sweden which has resulted in her becoming only a handful of women players to be nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award - given annually for the year's best goal.

The 23-year-old's success is now paving the way for other women and girls to pick-up their boots and help the women's game grow.

Alessia Russo in Canterbury Cathedral

Alessia received her Honorary Doctorate at Canterbury Cathedral on Friday, 27 January, in a series of ceremonies that saw over 1000 Canterbury Christ Church students receive their degree awards in front of family, friends and the University community.

She said in her speech to the graduating students: “A huge congratulations to everyone here today. You should be so proud. You are set-up with the tools to achieve something special, so never take that for granted and never stop pushing for more.

“Success always starts with you. You must have enough courage to always back yourself, even if the odds are against you. Trust your path, and match it with hard work and commitment, so that you can never look back with regrets. I want to encourage you to leave a legacy in whatever careers you choose.

“Thank you to Canterbury Christ Church University for making this event so special and helping to change the lives of many young people.”

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “We are delighted to honour Alessia with this award in recognition and celebration of her achievements, hard work and commitment to being an outstanding role model to young girls and women.

“Everybody was so elated last year when the Lionesses won the Euro Championships. Their teamwork, dedication and commitment to their dreams, values and beliefs is a great example to all of us, and we welcome Alessia to our University community.”

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