Toone and Russo are 'complete opposites'

Alessia Russo and Ella Toone may not play for the same club any more, but in a new podcast the best friends confirm they are still as tight as ever.

"We ring a lot and text every day, so it's like we're not really apart," says Toone, 24.

The pair met as teenagers on England international duty and spent three years together at Manchester United before Russo joined Arsenal in 2023.

As England team-mates, they famously helped Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses win the European Championship in 2022.

Midfielder Toone's opening goal, having come on as a substitute, inspired England's victory over Germany in the final at Wembley and Russo’s backheeled goal against Sweden in the semi-final was one of the iconic moments of the tournament.

In a new podcast, presenter Vick Hope gets to know more about their life and friendship off the field.

Here are some takeaways from episodes one and two, available now on BBC Sounds.

They don't have much in common

Despite getting on so well, both players say they are 'complete opposites' in many ways.

Russo picked up a love of country music from a spell playing in the United States, while Toone thinks it all "sounds the same".

Russo's favourite cuisine is Japanese but Toone would "rather go somewhere and eat chips".

Russo is a big coffee fan, while Toone "doesn't need it" - although that doesn't stop her turning up for coffee dates and ordering an orange juice. She says she suffers a "FOMO" (fear of missing out) otherwise.

Toone also reveals she is not keen on London, where 25-year-old Russo is now based, as the Mancunian finds people in the capital "a bit rude" and the city's public transport sends her anxiety "through the roof".

"I like what I like," she says. "That's why I'm still in Tyldesley."

One thing the pair do have in common is a shared taste in footwear. Russo reveals one of the things they first bonded over was the fact they "wore the same trainers" to their first England camp together.

Russo adopted a few 'cringey' Americanisms after playing in United States

In 2017, Russo left Brighton for US college soccer team North Carolina Tar Heels and, according to Toone, picked up some "cringey" habits while there, including referring to penalty kicks as "pk's" and occasionally swapping football for "soccer".

"She started saying these mad words," says the Manchester United stalwart, adding her friend had "only been there a month".

'I have this argument all the time - people say I'm from Wigan' - Toone

In episode two, Russo suggests her friend has a "Wigan accent" - something the midfielder rejects.

"I have this all the time - people say I'm from Wigan," says Toone. "[But] I've got a Manchester postcode."

She does admit, however, her family pays tax to Wigan council.

'You're under so much scrutiny' - Russo on new-found fame

The Lionesses' triumphs on the pitch have contributed to a massive rise in the popularity of women's football. There are now twice as many registered female football teams in England as there were seven years ago.

A total of 14.4m people tuned in to watch England play Spain in last year's World Cup final and Toone and Russo have become major stars, appearing recently on the cover of Elle magazine.

Fame has come with some challenges though as Russo says a lot of the Lionesses "struggled a little bit" after the Euros.

"We could literally just play football and now you're under so much scrutiny all the time," she reveals.

For Toone, one of the most bizarre moments post-Euros occurred when a photograph of her eating a pasty appeared in the press.

"Honestly, leave a woman in peace to enjoy her pasty," she says.

For more stories and insights, listen to the podcast series on BBC Sounds with new episodes from Monday 6 May. The series is also available to watch on YouTube.