ALESSIA RUSSO used to dream of scoring in a World Cup final with lively kick action in their hometown of Kent.
The future England star, 24, would be wandering around a garden with her mates at East Farleigh in Maidstone and pictured being in action at the tournament.
Tomorrow the forward will be looking to make her childhood dream come true as the Lionesses battle Spain for a chance to lift the trophy.
A game Russo describes as “a pinch moment” as England look to win sport’s biggest prize for the first time.
The Lionesses forward, who has two older brothers, Luca and Giorgio, said: “When I was a kid we played World Cup football in the backyard and we had to score to stay in it.”
“I have such fond memories of the local kids, but also of my brothers and my youth teams.
“It looked like fun and free play.
“As a kid it was a special feeling growing up thinking I was going to play in a World Cup final. A real pinch moment.”
Russo’s last goal at this year’s tournament cemented England’s place in the final.
The lioness, who joined Arsenal as a free agent this summer, is in the running for the tournament’s golden boot alongside pals Lauren Hemp and Lauren James.
The trio have scored three goals each so far.
Asked if she has a fancy celebration planned if she scores in Sydney tomorrow, Russo added: “As for the celebrations, you can see mine aren’t planned or anything special
“But it’s just what’s happening right now. Usually it’s a loud scream and a hug from whoever is near me.
“Right now I just want to go out there, do a performance I can be proud of and obviously win.
“We started this tournament with a desire to win seven games and that is the message.
“This is the last one to leave and we’re really locked in.
“You have the wise guys in Mary (Earps), Millie (Bright) and Lucy (Bronze), which is great because they’ve been through a lot.
“Obviously for the players, we are all aware that it is a World Cup final and that is at stake.
“But once you cross the finish line, it’s just a normal game. That’s what we like to do.”
“It’s 11 against 11 and we have to win. As soon as we enter the field, we know our task and what we have to do.
“We are aware that it is a World Cup final, but we will just play our game.”
Lauren James is available for tomorrow’s match after being sent off in England’s Round of 16 win over Nigeria for a two-game ban.
And Russo, who started her professional career at Chelsea in 2015, believes the Blues forward’s return will be a huge boost for the European champions.
The 28-time Lioness said: “I’ve known Lauren since I was 12 at Chelsea.
“She is a special, talented player. We want everyone to be fit and available.
“Tooney (Ella Toone) has also stepped up so we have so many players who can come and do a job.
“But to have a special player like LJ back in the squad for the final is great. Everyone knows how impressive she was in this tournament.”
The Lionesses will battle for victory in their second major tournament final under Sarina Wiegman.
And her boss will lead a team in a World Cup final for the second time in her managerial career.
England fans in Australia and at home are hoping the Dutch coach leads her battle-hardened squad to back-to-back tournament victories.
For Russo, the Lioness boss has created a national lineup that’s highly competitive but also fun.
The England star said: “Sarina is a winner. She sets the standards in training very high and leads with real class.
“She’s honest and open and as a player I respect that.” It’s nice to have honest conversations with the leader of your team.
“It’s great for us because it’s so competitive and everyone is focused on one goal
“But off the pitch, she lets us enjoy our time, relax and unwind, which is important.”
It makes camp a really fun place.”