Former Chelsea, Birmingham, Juventus and England Women striker Eniola Aluko has announced her retirement from football at the age of 32.
Aluko confirmed her departure from Juventus in November after a successful 18-month spell in Italy and was widely tipped to join a Women’s Super League club back in England. Instead, she has decided to hang up her boots altogether to end an 18-year career.
My dear friend football, it's time to hang up my boots and retire as a professional footballer. Thankyou football for everything you've given and taught me. Thanks for the full circle moments & crazy unexpected journey.— Eniola Aluko (@EniAlu) January 15, 2020
📸 @PlayersTribune pic.twitter.com/jwj6HtHWic
At the time of her Juventus departure, Aluko revealed that she would be ‘moving back into women’s football in England’. But rather than join a new club, that now appears as though it will be in an off-field role to continue growing and developing the women’s game.
In a post for The Players’ Tribune to coincide with her retirement, Aluko hinted as much.
“And while I can’t tell you about my next step just yet, I can say that I will keep working to drive the women’s game forward, much like I tried to do for all those years as a striker,” she explained.
“I’ll be striving to give women key positions in football, to help get the game more coverage, finance and growth and new opportunities.”
Aluko was just 14 when she made her first-team debut for Birmingham. She went on to join Charlton, who folded within a few years, and then Chelsea, who Aluko recalls as being uninterested in ‘much more than investing in water bottles for the women’s team’ in those days.
In 2009, she was given the chance to play professionally in the United States, first for St Louis Athletica, then Atlanta Beat, and finally New Jersey-based Sky Blue.
Aluko was ready to retire as early 2012 when she was just 25, but the Olympic games on home soil, which saw Great Britain play at Wembley in front of 70,000 fans, reignited her appetite.
The player then briefly re-joined Birmingham, before a second spell at Chelsea that lasted six years saw her win two WSL titles and the 2017 Spring Series, as well as two FA Cups.
Aluko played more than 100 times for England in a senior international career that lasted 12 years from 2004 to 2016, playing at three World Cups and three European Championships.
Away from playing side of football, she has already forged a successful reputation as a television pundit, while her first book ‘They Don’t Teach This’ was published last year.