Chelsea forward Eniola Aluko reached the fantastic landmark of 100 caps in Boca Raton at the #SheBelievesCup…
England secured a third placed finish at the inaugural SHEBELIEVES Cup, courtesy of a better ‘goals scored’ tally than their final opponents France. But arguably the most notable moment in the 0-0 draw, from an England perspective (French striker Marie-Laure Delie was also playing her 100th game for her national team), was the second-half introduction of Eniola Aluko, for her 100th appearance for the Lionesses.
We caught a quick word with Eni after the match, to pass on our congratulations and hear how she feels about the achievement and also the match and tournament itself…
Eni on whether she was emotional as entered the field to reach that landmark number of caps:
I was trying not to be. I think you’ve got to look at it like any other game and I’ve got to try and help the team and focus on the job in hand but of course it’s a great moment for me and my family and the people that have invested in my career over the years. All the players I’ve played with for many, many years… I think, 11 years. They’re probably sick of the sight of me. It’s a really special moment, I think it’s one of those rubber stamp things in your life when you go, ‘it’s all been worth it, the good times and the bad times,’ so I’m still here. Hopefully I’ll keep being picked and continue my journey with England.
Eni on the speech she made to the team after the game:
You don’t win 100 caps every day, so it was really important for me to say thank you to a lot of people who have been my team mates for 11 years, that’s a big chunk of time, so I said thank you to a lot of people but the rest I’ll keep to myself. It was a dressing room speech, all of those players know how much it means to me and how much the team means to me as well.
Eni on joining the game in the second half as the improved England team pressed France back:
As a sub, I think the only thing you can do is try and impact the game. We have spoken about that as a team, so I made sure I ran around and tried to pick up second balls that Jill Scott was doing so well to win. We definitely were dominant in the second half, so if I contributed to that then I’m really happy. We played a lot more football today, we settled on the ball and were a bit more free with our play. I think France, will be going, off the back of that second half, being a bit relieved actually, that they’ve drawn 0-0 because I think we had a bit of a penalty shout as well. We were definitely the better team in the second half.
Eni reflecting on enjoying the tournament:
You want to win, we came into this tournament to win and we haven’t done that. I think there’s obviously stuff to work on but I think for us as players, we are very resilient and we know that we have to come back and put the work in to make sure that this time next year, going into the European Championships that we are ready to try and win the tournament.
On finishing 3rd (again):
We’ve got to try and go from 3rd to 1st now. We certainly have a shift in mentality, where we know that we can compete with the best teams but we’ve got to make sure that competing is turned into winning.
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