Eniola Aluko will leave Chelsea Ladies following the completion of the WSL1 season this coming weekend.
The 31-year-old is one of the greats in our Ladies team’s history. She departs as a twice winner of the domestic league and cup Double, having also been part of last year’s WSL Spring Series success.
Aluko, whose attacking flair and pace has been a feature of the Blues’ forward play either centrally or out wide, first joined Chelsea in 2007 before heading to the US Women's Professional League in 2008.
She returned to English football with Birmingham Ladies and was successful against Chelsea in the FA Cup final. Shortly after, in December 2012, Emma Hayes brought her back to London and she struck six domestic goals that season and one in the International Women’s Club Championship as we reached the final in Tokyo.
Trophies followed, the first in Chelsea Ladies history. In 2015, Aluko played in 25 of our 28 games in all competitions as both the Women’s Super League and the FA Cup were won, and we made our bow in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
She scored seven goals, one an important winner against Liverpool, and laid on many more, including for Ji So-Yun’s only goal of the game as both starred in the first Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley. Aluko was named Player of the Match, as well as the first Chelsea Ladies Player of the Year and in the PFA Team of the Year for 2015.
In 2016, Aluko was the WSL1 Golden Boot winner with nine goals from only 13 starts and in our Champions League campaigns she has netted against Glasgow and Wolfsburg.
This season, another which has yielded both the major domestic trophies, she has played her part too, coming on in the FA Cup final, scoring the winner against Sunderland at the weekend which took the team to the brink of the WSL title, and appearing in the clincher last night too.
Speaking after yesterday's game, Aluko said: ‘I'm so proud of my team-mates and the club. This team expects silverware and we've delivered it.
‘It's a shame Emma [Hayes] wasn't here, but she's got more important things to worry about. We FaceTimed her as soon as we could – she was in bed and I'm sure she was very excited. For her to lead this team to a Double whilst pregnant says everything about her character and who she is. It's an amazing message to women all over the world.
‘We're a very good team at not playing the occasion. The message is always to the do the right things technically and tactically – you can enjoy the occasion afterwards.
‘I couldn't think of a better way to end the season than with another trophy. To do the Double for a second time is amazing. We expect to win and we've delivered again.’
On the international stage, Aluko has enjoyed a major career, making her England debut aged just 17, playing for Team GB at the London Olympics and winning her 100th England cap in March 2016.
Chelsea would like to thank Eni for her tremendous career at the club. We hope she enjoys the final game of the season on Sunday and wish her all the best for the future.
- The official Chelsea website will be looking back with Eniola Aluko on her time with the club after the end of the season.