Lionesses Alessia Russo and Keira Walsh scooped major prizes at the inaugural Women’s Football Awards in London tonight.
Hosted by former Chelsea and England forward Eni Aluko and Sky Sports presenter Jamie Carragher, the Women’s Football Awards, supported by online fashion and lifestyle retailer SHEIN, celebrated the players, people, brands and organisations who have contributed to the phenomenal growth of the sport.
The Women’s Football Awards was the first publicly-voted ceremony to recognise all-levels of the game, from grassroots greatness to the superstar players on the pitch.
Over 20,000 public votes were cast for the winners and later ratified by an expert judging panel led by Manchester United’s Nikita Parris, Sky Sports News anchor Hayley McQueen and Real Madrid midfielder Caroline Weir.
Manchester United forward Russo was in attendance to lift the Player of the Year trophy while Barcelona star Walsh, the most expensive women’s footballer of all-time, spoke to the capacity crowd at Nobu Hotel live via video-link to accept her trivago-sponsored prize.
England captain Harry Kane and international team-mate Declan Rice also attended the awards and were recognised for their support of the Lionesses on their way to European Championship glory in 2022.
Tottenham Hotspur Women’s Rosella Ayane and West Ham forward Viviane Assayi paid tribute to the pair at the event and spoke about their behind-the-scenes support of women’s football. Meanwhile, Lioness Georgia Stanway has spoken about the advice Declan Rice has given the England women’s side.
There were loud cheers in the room at Nobu when Arsenal legend and BBC pundit Ian Wright was named Women’s Football Champion of the year, as personalities from across the sporting and celebrity landscape presented awards to deserving winners.
Dame Kelly Holmes, boxing legend Nicola Adams, sports pundit Seema Jaswal, TV presenter Roman Kemp and Myleene Klass all attended the event.
In other awards, Girls on the Ball were recognised as Journalist or Broadcaster of the Year while former Everton and Liverpool star Fern Whelan, the first Women’s Football EDI Executive for the PFA, won the Off The Pitch Award. Whelan has been widely praised for her role to enhance opportunities in football for women and girls from marginalised communities.
Manchester Laces were honoured with Grassroots Initiative of the Year for their work in encouraging participation in women’s football, while broadcaster and Women’s Super League Hall of Fame star Karen Carney was honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award as the final gong of the night. Her award was presented by Olympic gold medalist Sally Gunnell.
Former England captain Carol Thomas, who captained the Lionesses to the 1984 European final, was presented with a special recognition award.
Thomas is considered a pioneer of the women’s game and captained England in seven tournaments, winning two of them, including the Home Internationals of 1976 and the invitational 1985 Mundialito — known as the Little World Cup
Former Chelsea, Juventus and England star Eni Aluko, said:
“Tonight was a highlight of my career. This was a first for women’s football and a landmark moment for the game. I am so proud to be part of this event. For the first time women’s football has got the recognition it deserved. It is even more special because the public nominated and voted for these awards.
“To see so many amazing footballers, people, organisations and brands recognised for advancing and improving the game we love was phenomenal and I have to give thanks to our main sponsors, SHEIN, and supporting sponsors Klarna and Visa, for helping put together such a memorable night.
“From superstar players to the grassroots organisations promoting the game in their own time, we have seen the best of the best being recognised tonight and it has been a dream come true to be part of it alongside Jamie Carragher and the Women’s Football Awards team.”
“So many big names attended this event. It was incredible. Huge credit to all of the winners. We’re already planning for the event in 2024.”
Sky Sports presenter and football legend Jamie Carragher, who co-hosted the event, said:
“Eni and I have been involved in the Women’s Football Awards since day one and to feel the atmosphere in the room tonight was fantastic. This was a special event.
“This was a true celebration of the women’s game. I am looking forward to seeing the sport continue to grow at a phenomenal rate and I’ll do what I can to help.
“All of the winners are incredibly deserving.”
Matthias Tillmann – Chief Financial Officer and VP of brand at trivago, who sponsored the International Player of the Year award, said:
“This award recognizing Keira Walsh is a testament to our shared commitment and a tribute to the extraordinary resilience and talent of women athletes worldwide. At trivago, we firmly believe in empowering women, and we are committed to fostering a working environment where they can thrive and inspire generations to come.”
Full 2023 Women’s Football Awards, sponsored by SHEIN, winners:
Klarna Player of the Year
trivago International Player of the Year
XLCR Young Football Player of the Year
Lauren James and Missy Bo Kearns
VISA Best Club of the Year
Broadcaster or Journalist of the Year
Girls on the Ball
Social Asking Women’s Football Champion of the Year
Harry Kane and Declan Rice
The Watch Fund Marketing Campaign of the Year
Visa ‘When More of Us Play, All of Us Win’
Quooker Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Award
Spector, Constant & Williams Grassroots Initiative of the Year
Standard Chartered Off the Pitch Award
Outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility Award
Kick X Brand of the Year
Gaucho Football Business of the Year
Sponsors Choice Award
SHEIN Lifetime Achievement Award