Alisha Lehmann Check out Big interview

The Aston Villa forward has a huge social media following but sees no reason why she can’t juggle football with a glamorous lifestyle.

Scroll through the Instagram account of Alisha Lehmann, the Aston Villa forward, and you will find a combination of football kits, dresses, false eyelashes and football boots. It reflects an amalgamation of interests which have earned her 11.4 million followers on the platform.

“The message I want to give to people [is] that you can literally be however you want and still play football,” Lehmann, 24, says. “Use make-up or do the things you like, do your nails, do your eyelashes, and still play football. It’s not a side you have to pick.

“It’s really important that no one changes because people tell you to. When I was younger a lot of people told me, ‘Oh, you can’t wear make-up. You can’t wear your lashes when you play’. At one point I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s normal and it doesn’t hurt anyone if I do it.

“I feel like we should see this as normal. Because I’m someone that likes it a lot. I want to look really feminine. It’s my passion.”

Thanks to her diverse interests, Lehmann has taken social media by storm. She has more than four times as many Instagram followers as the official Villa men’s account, which has 2.6 million. The women’s account has only 146,000 followers.

The Switzerland forward has capitalised on her online fame — as well as her footballing ability — by bringing out a calendar, mug and poster, and has appeared on TV shows, such as Sky’s Soccer AM. “It really started when I played at the Under-19 Euros in Switzerland. After that I made the transfer to West Ham,” she says. “I think that was the turning point, when my Instagram kind of blew up.

Lehmann says online abuse doesn’t affect her
Lehmann says online abuse doesn’t affect her INSTAGRAM

“If I am honest, now I don’t feel any different. Maybe you get recognised sometimes a bit more but I don’t feel like I’m special.

“I am a footballer that goes to training every day — it’s nothing crazy cool.”

Lehmann came to the Women’s Super League in 2018, joining West Ham United, then went on loan to Everton in early 2021 before joining Villa that summer. It frustrates Lehmann that her footballing prowess — she has 34 Switzerland caps — can be overlooked. A video pinned to the top of her Instagram account features her goal against Manchester City during a 4-3 victory in September. For many who follow her, social media clips will be the only time they see Lehmann the footballer, who is part of a Villa team trying to upset City and the established giants such as Chelsea and Arsenal.

“A lot of people only see the social side [of my life, via Instagram] and not actually how I play football,” she says. “About this, I’m sometimes disappointed, because I work hard every day. I train every day and I want to be the best player I can be. They don’t really know how I play. I’m always saying, ‘Watch a game please’ — and then they’re surpris-ed.”

Lehmann’s side are sixth in the WSL
Lehmann’s side are sixth in the WSL NAOMI BAKER/GETTY IMAGES

There are negatives that come with such a large social-media following. Lehmann took part in Uefa’s “Real Scars” advertising campaign this summer — alongside Jorginho, the Arsenal men’s midfielder, and Wendie Renard, the Lyon defender — aimed at highlighting the wider issue of online abuse. “I don’t read any [online abuse],” Lehmann says. “I just ignore it. The comments — you see them, but it doesn’t really bother me because I’m confident in what I do and I love this lifestyle . . . so many people come back to me with good messages. So I [focus on] them. Every night I sleep really good. It doesn’t affect me.

“Normally, I’m not really the person that makes big statements. But when I was part of this campaign, it was really important for me to also show . . . if [trolls] say something, sometimes it affects people. Not everyone is as confident.”

Football is Lehmann’s true passion, and when there is a quiet moment, she loves nothing more than lining up chairs in her house to create a barrier and playing two-touch with her friends.

Villa and Lehmann are aiming for a top-five finish in the WSL this season — they are sixth, two points behind Everton in fifth. If they are to achieve that, they will do so by focusing on enjoyment, not pressure.

“It’s the small things that make us happy as footballers,” Lehmann says. “Sometimes you have to do the tactics and you think, ‘Oh, it’s a bit boring’, but then you play the games and you score goals and bring new skills in. It’s just so much fun.”

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