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Angel City sporting director Eni Aluko on having Natalie Portman as her boss, meeting Mia Hamm and NWSL expansion team's targets

09:47 IST 08/03/2022
Eni Aluko Angel City FC
The former England star says meeting one of Hollywood's top actors and a two-time World Cup winner was a "surreal" experience

Angel City sporting director Eni Aluko has opened up on having Natalie Portman as her boss and meeting Mia Hamm, while also discussing the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) expansion team's targets.

Aluko announced her retirement from football in January 2020 after a stellar 19-year career that saw her take in spells at Chelsea, Atlanta Beat, Sky Blue FC, Birmingham City and Juventus.

The 35-year-old, who also won 102 caps for England, moved to the United States the following year, taking up a boardroom role with Angel City ahead of their inaugural NWSL season.

Aluko's "surreal" introduction to Hamm & Portman

Hollywood actor Portman forms part of the club's majority-female ownership group, which boasts a whole host of high-profile investors.

Former United States women's star and two-time World Cup winner Hamm is among those to have helped found the new NWSL outfit, who are set to make their debut in the competition later this month.

Aluko says it was a "privilege" for her to meet Portman and Hamm, along with the rest of the backroom team at Angel City, and she is fully committed to bringing their vision to life in the coming years.

"Meeting them was surreal," she told BBC Sport. "I remember meeting Mia Hamm in Los Angeles for the first time and I was just like 'wow, it's Mia Hamm, this is ridiculous'.

"I watched Julie Foudy win the World Cup, Abby Wambach win the World Cup - and now they are my colleagues.

"Natalie Portman is my boss. I have met her several times, spoken to her kids about football and what training session we are doing - it is a privilege to be given the responsibility to try to build something that is the idea of all these amazing people."

Aluko eager to manage expectations

Aluko is excited for what the future holds at Angel City, but is careful to avoid making any unrealistic promises as an untested squad embarks on its maiden NWSL campaign.

"We have to be careful to have a balance between being ambitious and understanding how difficult it is to come in and win straight away," she said when asked about her short-term goals with the Los Angeles-based club.

"For us, it is about saying 'can we be the most successful expansion team in the NWSL?'

"There has been lots of talk and now we want to see the action on the pitch. We want to see goals, we want to see defending, great assists, the team really gelling together on the pitch. That is why we are doing this."

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