Former England international striker Eniola Aluko has announced her retirement from football at the age of 32, six weeks after she left Juventus 18 months into a two-year contract to return to England.
Born in Lagos to Nigerians parents, Aluko moved with her family to Birmingham in England at the age of one.
She grew up playing football with her brother Sone Aluko – Reading FC midfielder and his friends.
Aluko won five FA Cups and three English league titles while at Birmingham, Charlton and Chelsea, represented the American sides Saint Louis Athletics, Atlanta Beat and Sky Blue FC, and won the league and domestic cup in Italy.
She is considered one of England’s greatest women players, winning 102 international caps, playing at three World Cups and two European Championships, as well as representing Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.
Her international career ended acrimoniously and she had not been included in an England squad since accusing the former manager of the national team Mark Sampson of discrimination in 2016. She continued to achieve success at club level and her final major trophy, the Supercoppa Italiana, was won with Juventus less than three months ago.
“I very much feel like I’m ending on a high, with a sense that there’s not much more I can do in the game,” she told the Guardian. “There is nothing that could motivate me to keep playing for another two or three years aside from a love of the game, which is something I can express through other avenues.
“I spoke a lot to Karen Carney and Claire Rafferty, two mates and former England internationals who retired at the end of last season. I asked them when they knew the time was right for them to hang up their boots and they both said they knew about six months before, which has also been my experience. I think when you know, you know. You get the feeling that it’s enough.”
The 32-year-old recently completed UEFA’s Executive Master for International Players and has been preparing for a second career as a director of football.
“The truth is that I feel ready for the next period of my life, and I feel very excited,” she said. “There is a new chapter about to start for me, one that will be full of fresh challenges. As my playing career comes to an end, I feel a real sense of closure.”