After not taking part in the recent Euro, the 24-year-old Bernese Alisha Lehmann celebrated her return to the Swiss team in this World Cup year.
Performing well on the field and undisputed queen of social networks with her 20 million followers, the Aston Villa striker clearly contributes to the promotion of her sport. Analysis of a phenomenon.
We can quibble all we want, assume with a touch of irony and even contempt that she is first a product of social networks before being a footballer, that her efficiency is much higher in her posts and videos than in front of the goal, and blah, blah.
Nevertheless, when Alisha Lehmann lifts a finger, the whole mediaphere gets excited and starts running. This was proven once again during the training camp that the Swiss women’s soccer team just completed in Estepona, near Marbella, on the Costa del Sol. Even the French website Sports.fr, one of the most important multimedia hubs in Europe, got into the act, wondering more provocatively than appropriately whether the Bernese woman was not too beautiful to play ball.
The kind of sexist and racist question that has the gift to irritate the striker born in Tägertschi (390 inhabitants), near Münsingen (BE). “Criticism is easy. Many people judge me through my behavior on the networks but have never watched a single minute of my sports performance. It’s not right,” says the Aston Villa right winger, who has nearly 7 million followers on TikTok and 12.1 million on Instagram.
Ahead of Federer
On this last application, she is now ahead of tennis icon Roger Federer “himself” by 800,000 units. Only Ivan Rakitic, the Croatian international footballer who plays for FC Sevilla and was born in Rheinfelden, in the canton of Aargau, is doing better than her, with his 17.4 million followers on Insta. By comparison, Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri or Yann Sommer have barely 3 million each. On the female side, if the American Alex Morgan declares nearly 10 million, her runner-up, the Brazilian Marta, considered the greatest footballer of all time, painfully reaches 2.5 million followers. If the figures do not tell everything, they can nevertheless measure the extent of the phenomenon Alisha. The lightning growth of her profile on the networks is not only explained by her talents as a footballer, far from it. Despite playing in a prestigious league and club, Alisha Lehmann is only ranked 1237th in the world.
So how do we explain this tidal wave? Simple. The former junior of FC Konolfingen and Young Boys Frauen Bern, who started playing soccer at the age of 5, quickly realized the benefits of her plasticity in a growing sport that is looking for role models and leaders on and off the field. As an added bonus, the “Villains” striker (the nickname of her club, Aston Villa, based in Birmingham) stands out from other women or influencers because of her profession, which she largely contributes to highlighting. She can also draw on her status as a professional player in the most elite league in women’s soccer, the English FA Women’s Super League, which she joined in 2018 in the colors of London club West Ham United, before moving on to Everton.
That said, one episode in particular made his fame take off: the news, posted in the course of 2019 on his account, with a tender photo to support it, of his love relationship with Ramona Bachmann, his Lucerne teammate in the national team, nine years older than him, who was also playing in London at the time, at Chelsea. A coming out that was like a bomb in an environment where this kind of romance remains taboo. Even better, after their breakup in the spring of 2021, Alisha Lehmann did not hesitate to put a layer ten months later, showing herself on the arm of her new conquest, male this time: the Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz, who plays in the boys’ team of Aston Villa. A relationship which she announced the end last November.
Love affairs lived in broad daylight that have caused a lot of talk and earned him a lot of criticism and even insults, but which have largely contributed to boost its accounts. “The insults are much more violent on the networks than in real life because many people express themselves,” she replied in a video produced by UEFA.
Alisha Lehmann – Love and glamour
Add to these stories of love a consummate sense of staging and glamour, and the trick is done. A mixture of genres that the Swiss international (34 caps) does not hesitate to wear on the field, where she always appears perfectly dressed and made up, false eyelashes and hair carefully braided, raising the recurring question: is his job as a footballer compatible, because of the time to devote to it, with that of an influencer with such a dazzling success? A question that, to our knowledge, has never been asked to Cristiano Ronaldo, for example. Another debate. On the Web, experts in social networks are jostling to give their opinion. One goes so far as to mention mental problems that could trigger the thousands of daily comments on her appearance.
The answer is as invariable as it is determined. Alisha Lehmann told us once again in Estepona: “I am 100% dedicated to my job as a footballer. Like all my teammates, I train every day and play every weekend. I have never heard from a club or a national team that social networking is a problem. With the Swiss team, there are six or seven rules to follow, but we can spend our free time as we wish. I don’t see what the problem is. Especially since I don’t deal with the technical side of things,” says the star, pretending, with a touch of bad faith, not to explain the reasons for his enormous success. “There is no explanation for it. It happened, that’s all”, cuts the one who regularly posts photos in bikini and poses next to luxury cars.
In a word, she felt good about herself, her boots and her mind. Except that last June, a month before the Euro, which was being played in her backyard, in England, and in which she was looking forward to taking part, she announced her withdrawal, claiming that she was not mentally ready for the event. A forfeit as unexpected as incomprehensible about which she had never expressed herself until February 14th, thus letting all the rumors, speculations and criticisms run. The most likely reason seemed to be an ego and relationship problem between her and her former coach, the Dane Nils Nielsen, who almost never used her.
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