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“I want to be someone who always tries to bring a smile to people’s faces,” Alexander Iwobi tells me on the legacy he wishes to leave when the time arrives to hang up his boots.

The 26-year-old cuts a relaxed but youthful figure from his Manchester home roughly forty-five minutes from Goodison Park. Assured with his words but never lacking energy with each response he gives, Iwobi strays far from the robotic nature some athletes have become accustomed to, making him one of Gen-Z’s favourite personalities.

The Everton midfielder is speaking just a week after travelling to Belfast to support Emonsi, a multi-sports organisation focused on diversifying sports for ethnic minorities alongside his platform Project 17. “Football has given me the opportunity to enjoy life, so I’m trying to give that back to other people. I’m a normal person as well as a footballer that just loves good vibes.”

“Me especially, I don’t notice how big of an influence we have on people until, for example, I go to Northern Ireland. Sometimes I think they’ll just see me as someone else, but when you go and you see how it makes them so happy when you share your experiences, it’s life-changing.”

Alexander Iwobi at home, photographed by Shane Bain.

Born in Lagos of Nigeria, Iwobi was raised in London where his journey to the Premier League would begin, rising through the ranks at North London club Arsenal after joining as an eight-year-old.

The Gunners are known for producing well-dressed ballers. Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Serge Gnabry are just three examples and interest in fashion started young for those at Hale End, admits Iwobi. “Everyone had a look. At Hale End, in my age [group], everyone was looking to dress clean and making sure you take care of yourself with what you were wearing.”

“At that time, Chuba Akpom was the best-dressed. He got an adidas deal and he used to dress just adidas and he’d make it look sick. He had a high-top and high-tops were the thing at that time so he made it look wavey, so I’d say Chuba was the man with the drip back then.”

Though the ever-growing popularity of the Premier League allows many of its players to experience financial freedom, it wasn’t always as simple to purchase the latest trends for Iwobi: “When I was growing up, my Mum used to put me in GAP. If you had a GAP jumper at school, you were the man,” he says.

Alex Iwobi wears a Prada double match poplin shirt, photographed by Shane Bain.

“At secondary school and at all the discos, if you had the latest astros and jeans, you were the man. K Swiss’ were a big thing back then too. If you had Prada or True Religion jeans, you were the man. But me? I just about made it to Lyle & Scott and Voi jeans. I couldn’t get the True Religions, if I did I was done, my Mum would have been angry at me.”

“I had a black Ralph Lauren tracksuit with the red horse but I remember I asked my Dad to get me one and he was like ‘yeah, no problem’. “I thought something was wrong, he came back with one and the horse was facing the wrong way,” he says holding back his laughter.

“I was like nahhh, it was mad! The jockey with the stick was bent, I said to my Dad ‘nah come on man, I’d rather you just get a plain shirt than a fake ting!’ But my parents tried for me, man.” 

Iwobi’s appreciation for his family comes as no surprise. The Nigerian regularly has friends – who he now labels his brothers – stay over for days at a time and today is no different. “If we’re all in the house, it’s a battle for the speaker and whose music is the loudest,” he tells me.

Alex Iwobi, photographed by Shane Bain.

“Music is a big part of my life. I’m always listening to music. Every Friday, there’s a new album that comes out so I’ll listen to the latest tunes and then during the week it’s just on shuffle. My favourite track right now? I’m going to go with my anthem, 5500 Degrees by EST Gee, Lil Baby, Rylo Rodriguez and 42 Dugg.”

The conversation on music also presents the opportunity to find out what players are listening to behind closed doors aside from the usual rotation of Lil Baby, Gunna and Drake. The topic of guilty pleasures comes up and the presence of Iwobi’s friends provides a glimpse into his everyday personality.

“My guilty pleasure? Why you smiling?”, he says in the direction of his friend Michael who is watching on in the corner of the room: “You know what I’m going to say,” Michael responds with a grin on his face. “Go on, say it,” prompts Iwobi.

“You listen to Hannah Montana and that,” Michael says sending the room into laughter. “When’s the last time I listened to Hannah Montana?,” Iwobi fires back. “There are phases because obviously, it takes me back to my youth days if I listen to High School Musical songs or something.”

The Iwobi’s, photographed by Shane Bain.

After taking a brief second to think of his ultimate guilty pleasure, he breaks into song: “Hey now, hey now,” he sings from Hilary Duff’s ‘What Dreams Are Made Of’. “That was a phase so yeah, I’ll go with Hilary Duff. At our grown ages you know,” he says shaking his head with a smile.

The increased demand from young football fans to see authenticity from athletes makes Iwobi a shining light in a sport filled with media-managed athletes and robotic personalities. Through his Instagram and Snapchat, Iwobi offers an insight into his life through daily uploads from the training ground, his home or when he’s out and about, giving his followers real-time access into the life of a footballer.

“I like to show that at the end of the day, I’m human and I’m just like everyone else. I do like to have a bit of fun, hence why I’m always with my people just bantering and vibing. Obviously, you have to take football seriously if you want to get to the top but you can have fun with it and that’s what I’m trying to show people really.” 

One of the ways Iwobi has utilised his social media was through showcasing team-mate Dele Alli’s drip before his recent switch to Beşiktaş. The content, which saw Iwobi record the outfit worn by the former Tottenham midfielder at training each day, was loved by fans online with many weighing in their own opinion on each outfit. “A lot of people like to show off their personality through their fashion and Dele’s obviously one of them,” he says.

Alex Iwobi upstairs at home, photographed by Shane Bain.

“He’s someone that likes to wear loud clothes and he’s a very expressive person. Nobody is safe in my changing room. If you come in the latest drip, if you come in too nice… Because I like to come to training chilled, so if you’re coming to training a bit ‘oooo’, I’ll be like ‘oooo, where are you going?!’ But Dele loves the cameras, he loves me to put it on him and he’s always asking me like ‘Alex, come on, fit of the day’, but it’s good, everyone should dress how they want to dress.”

One of the criticisms levelled at footballers with an interest in fashion is the lack of focus on the pitch, something Dele has had to deal with heavily in recent months and the likes of Héctor Bellerín and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have also been hit with the accusation in the past.

For Iwobi, it’s about finding a balance between football and outside passions. “As long as you’re able to get that balance, you can have those other interests,” he tells me. “Some pundits will not agree with it because once a player isn’t performing to the standards they’re capable of, that’s when people are like ‘ah, he needs to relax on these other habits and focus on football’.”

“At the end of the day, we are footballers and that’s what we’re paid to do, so people want us to do the best we can for the club but if you’re able to get the balance right, then explore and do whatever makes you happy.” 

Alex Iwobi at home, photographed by Shane Bain.

There’s a widespread belief in football that because of the fast cars, flashy jewellery and lavish lifestyles, players should be able to take the criticism and abuse sent their way without being affected. The ‘I’d take all the abuse in the world for that sort of money’ is a common line thrown around by many, which of course is a nonsensical ideology.

Amidst the pressures and constant demands of the game in addition to the personal life struggles we all suffer, it would be nigh-on-impossible for players to never find themselves in tough times mentally and Iwobi admits he too has found it difficult in the past. “My first couple of years with Everton, I went quiet on the media.” 

“But now, with the help of Project 17, even if I’m going through bad times I’ll share that experience so people understand that it’s not always rosy, it’s not always a success story,” Iwobi reveals. “You have to go through difficult patches so that’s the only thing I’m trying to add. If I’m going through something, I can still voice it out to people.” 

“Like I say, we are human. We do have emotions as well so it’s normal for us to go through mental battles. I feel like the more you’re able to speak on it and get help, the better. It’s never good to suffer in silence.” 

Alex Iwobi up close, photographed by Shane Bain.

With football x fashion continuing to rise and luxury fashion brands tapping into young consumers through the use of football’s biggest stars, the NBA presents itself as a source of inspiration to many players given the fashion culture that exists in basketball. Pre-game fits, better known as tunnel fits, allow players to wear whatever they want as they arrive at each arena, encouraging the self-expression of athletes and the growth of the game by adding a new element to the sport.

In football, whilst there’s not believed to be any kind of definitive dress code, players usually rock tracksuits with club sponsors on and for the biggest games, most teams will arrive in suits. There have been early signs of it being introduced to football through Barcelona players such as Memphis Depay and Jules Koundé arriving at Camp Nou in outfits of their own choice of late and in the MLS, players regularly look to recreate the NBA culture.

Like Marcus Thuram, it’s something Iwobi would want to see in the game: “I enjoy the NBA when they walk in, I can’t lie. It looks sick. I’m sure the club want me to be coming in my tracksuit, but yeah I would go hard to games. I’d come how they [NBA players] come with their latest Goyard bags and all of that. The only thing that’s stressful would be making sure every week you’re patterned but apart from that, it looks sick and I enjoy it.” 

“If they’re watching us, they must be bored sick of seeing tracksuits all the time,” Iwobi jokes. “But tunnel fits in football? I would like that.” 

Alex Iwobi relaxes in his cinema room, photographed by Shane Bain.

Spending time with Iwobi was yet another reminder of why the stereotype footballers are labelled with couldn’t be further from the truth. In a life full of financial freedom and the ability to buy most that he desires, he labels a bracelet gifted to him by his Mum as the most valuable piece of clothing/jewellery he possesses.

Having suggested we cut part of the shoot out to spend less time in his hair, he reassures me we could have more time to fulfil the original plan, despite having already spent considerable time in his home on a day he had also had training.

If the character of Iwobi was not already visible by this point, the thirty-minute lift he gave me to the hotel I was staying at – preventing an expensive taxi ride and an additional train journey into the centre of Manchester – hammered home his aforementioned point. He is human like everyone else, but an incredible one at that.

Imagery Shot By: Shane Bain

Styled By: Alexander Iwobi himself

Location: Manchester, England





Without a doubt, it was an eventful off-season for football. Our favorite ballers have gone from movie-level holiday scenes, all the way into the recent round of international friendlies stateside and beyond. A hectic way to introduce this weekend’s all-new league title race, to say the least, but we’re here for it.

From the Bundesliga to La Liga, the Premier League & Serie A, the top style prospects – some new like the youngbloods on Chelsea’s roster, some veterans – have used this downtime wisely & carried the fashion game on their backs, using any opportunity to showcase their individual styles and character through clothing. 

We’ve seen an impressive variety of fits and dress codes, with players cooling off – and loading up – as far as hillside & courtside L.A. to NYC, beachside in Mexico, yacht settings in French Riviera spots, Mykonos & Ibiza, to kicking ball in Asia. There’s no telling how many beige private jet interiors and clearport content we’ve seen from this season…and we’re not mad at it.

Take AC Milan star forward Rafael Leão for example. Just like his on-pitch play – the smooth stepovers, risktaking strikes – he’s recently come into his own style-wise too, developing much more confidence in his creative flair and how he pulls his fits together. He’s already been coming different with the flat caps, jorts and penny loafers. Tuff.

In anticipation of the new pre-game looks this season, we peeped the braziest fits of the past few months to bring you a round-up of the current fashion trends that are here to stay. Fellow ballers, stylists, personal shoppers, boys and girls of the FF community – take notes (or screenshots).

LV To Kenzo: Luxury Brands Still Have Motion 

Clearly, Louis Vuitton’s streetwear-luxury reign has been extended with Pharrell’s takeover. More than ever, the brand has a growing pull that keeps players loyal to their designs – even without sponsorship deals. The likes of Jude and Jobe Bellingham, Sancho & Marcus Thuram pulled up kitted out in LV to Skateboy P’s opening SS24 Paris Fashion Week show and did numbers on the ‘Gram and TikTok. 

Just like Pharrell, O.G designer and BAPE founder Nigo has brought new eyes to legendary brand Kenzo. The vibrant blend of preppy Parisian vibes with real Japanese formalwear is slowly picking up momentum & motion and saw shots & footage of Leroy Sané and girlfriend Candice Brook in full Kenzo drip at June’s show went viral across socials. It’s no wonder why given the traditional Japanese wrap shirt and wide-leg pleated pants the Bayern Munich winger rocked brought a whole new level of drip to the table, It’s time to see more players taking a chance on Kenzo’s graphic tees, kimono wrap-style blazer jackets and their cold denim pieces going forward.

Now take this in… Jules Koundé’s appearance at both Kenzo & Louis Vuitton’s shows alone made him the third most influential athlete – behind Lebron James and Lewis Hamilton – stacking up almost $1 million in media value* for brands just from online engagement, per Footballers as a whole made up 14% of Fashion Week’s media value. Stats that prove ballers aren’t ditching pieces from the world’s biggest brands just yet.  

This season, we’re hoping to see for ballers rock the new camo, “Minecraft style” Damier LV print pieces introduced by Pharrell. Don’t be surprised to see the new “buttery” leather monogram speedy bags and the latest selection of solid leather jackets either, which have already been seen on Inter Milan’s Marcus Thuram.

The LV x Kid Super Autumn / Winter ‘24 collection is one to watch too, most notably the easily identifiable patchwork-face outerwear, donned by Chelsea’s Diego Moreira and renowned baller fashion-head Jesse Lingard.

Classy And Elegant Flex 

Over the summer, we’ve seen luxurious vacation views and even more luxurious drip from the game’s biggest players. There’s been a clear shift, where ballers are wearing much more formal, understated, and classic fits. Take the classic tailored pants, the linen shirts and even the suede Loro Piana summer walks rocked by Juventus’ Moise Kean for example.

They’ve all been keeping to the unspoken yet strict color scheme too: cool beiges and browns, calm blues and crisp whites. The unshakeable Ousmane Dembélé – now at PSG – and Atlético Madrid’s Memphis Depay are just two ballers doing just that.

This classy theme is heavily inspired by the sweet, city life of fashion hotspots like Milan, Monaco, London and Paris. A life that calls for quality and coolness in all areas. Don’t get it twisted though – there’s no age limit on this trend. Young players like Liverpool’s Stefan Bajčetić have stepped up and made this their own. Check his ‘Gram for proof. At only 18, he’s yet to miss with once in the fashion regard. Designer Martine Rose also had the USWNT looking dapper & chic in their custom pre-game suits at the Women’s World Cup.

The cooler months will call for high thread count cashmere sweaters, flawless blazers, bespoke shirts and trousers with premium leather kicks. Look no further than brands like Prada, Loewe, Ami and JW Anderson for inspiration via their latest collections. Loewe’s introduction of high-waisted, straight and ever-so-slightly flared pants are 10/10. Affordable options in Cos and Massimo Dutti could also do the trick too. 

This is definitely the vibe we’re looking for this season. Plus, with players like Jude Bellingham getting the call-up at Real Madrid and Timothy Weah linking up with the impeccably dressed Juventus guys, it’s no time before they see the vision & catch the Mediterranean wave.

Right (And Left) Wrist Van Cleef 

Drake was spot on when he sealed this trend into current culture with the above lyrics from “BackOutsideBoyz”. The luxury jewelry brand – Van Cleef & Arpels – famed for their neat and lightweight four-leaf clover style “Alhambra” bracelets – have got players like Jadon Sancho spinning the block back to the store and doubling up the amount they wear on one wrist. 

The brand has really caught on due to its “lucky charm” look, which means each link gives off a personal feel to its owner. Now this may not be everyone’s vibe (nor everyone’s price bracket) and that’s cool. More than anything this season we’re looking out for similar jewelry that has a sentimental feel to it. Chains and bracelets that are delicate in weight, but valuable in their meaning fit this criteria. This new trend of jewelry with sentimental value also explains why stars like Drizzy recently grabbed Tupac’s ring (before Karim Benzema got a chance) and Pharrell’s chains at auction. Expensive or cheap – we’re ready for ballers to follow suit.

Heavy On The Denim

If you haven’t been under a rock these past few months, you’ll agree that the jorts – or jeans shorts – trend has been going crazy amongst players. From LV print carpenter shorts to knee length and baggier three-quarter styles, the variety made it an easy summer staple for the likes of Leão and style heavyweight Trevoh Chalobah.

Looking ahead to the 23/24 season, it’s time to turn the denim trend up a notch. After all, jorts can’t be the move in the upcoming colder weather. Brands like Givenchy, Gucci, Loewe, Diesel, Y-Project and JW Anderson are dropping so many denim options back to back that we’re now spoilt for choice. But these aren’t the overly ripped, super bleached or distressed types we’ve been used to.

These are jeans in their purest form, with a heavy-weight look to them: a sign of quality. Whether that be 90s-looking light blues, mildly stonewashed grays or darker-dyed options, good denim is a vibe right now. Jeans that look sturdy & hefty, straight fit and slightly wide (but not ridiculous). We’ve had promising glimpses of this already, but we’re definitely praying to see more across the league. Less of the overdone & typical flashy jeans, more of the traditional, tastefully finished stuff. Alright, the Denim Tears and Chrome Hearts jeans can stay too…

Tales From The Far East 

South Asia has recently provided top-notch hospitality within football over the summer. Hosting the Barcelona boys in Tokyo and welcoming Manchester City in South Korea on their pre-season tours. But it’s Asia’s contribution to fashion that ballers and fashion fanatics should be most grateful for.

We know the Japanese don’t play when it comes to quality design and individualistic 1-of-1 drip that’s made to last a lifetime. Their creation & use of materials is globally respected, as their dyeing & “boro boro” reuse/upcycling process is one that’s been perfected for generations. For those looking to bring different vibes and have a fashion advantage, we recommend locking in & seeking out the rising fashion brands & trends coming out of Asia this season. You’re bound to find unseen archive pieces, crazy silhouettes (again, like Kenzo) and second-to-none textiles & detailing. This is the boundless creativity and freedom football has been needing; Asian fashion and excellent craftsmanship overseas will play a big part.

Brands like Thug Club out of South Korea – already supported by the likes of ASAP Rocky, SZA and Central Cee – are bringing new interpretations of streetwear with fire designs. Their double denim sets are embroidered with their futuristic-looking star & moon “TC” logo are too hard to pass up. And the caps, tees and hoodies? A must-cop! 

Standout designers like Seoul-based Andersson Bell & LVMH prize nominee Juntae Kim are ones we hope to see featured amongst Barca’s tunnel fits & rocked well at the Netherlands’ national team camp. Bell knows ball, since recently the brand hosted Trevoh Chalobah front row at their Milan SS24 show. The new collection features crazy style linkups like doubled-up hoodies & leather pants patched with cargo pockets. The latter brand Juntae goes equally as hard with cropped bomber jackets and immaculately creased denim that give a two-tone effect. Phenomenal. 

Of course, long-standing luxury Asian brands like WooyoungMi & Japanese brand Sacai – most known over here for the Nike Vaporwaffle – could do with some more love in the league. Sacai’s on a different level since their recent collaborations with Carhartt, which is all about upgraded workwear and fits inspired by the great outdoors. Their multi-functional dungarees and pocketed puffers, bombers, long length parka jackets with asymmetric openings would be a perfect fit for a style maverick like Michy Batshuayi. 

This one ain’t just a trend, it’s a movement. Get tapping into the endless brands coming out of Asia! 

Belt Buckle-Mania 

The bigger the buckle, the better! Musicians like Travis Scott & Kendrick Lamar have been rocking custom belts the size of WWE titles and we’re feeling it. Seeing the strong connection between sport and music, it won’t be long before we see ballers tighten up and catch onto the bucklemania effect. You won’t have trouble finding your own, since Gucci has brought back the legendary double G buckle and Loewe have released belts big enough for Wild West cowboys. 

Let us know which trends you’re looking out for ahead of another wavey year in the football x fashion space.

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“I didn’t see the dream of being a professional when I was growing up so I think we, as female players, have a responsibility to show young girls that this can be a career and playing football is something they’re allowed to do,” Rosella Ayane says on behalf of the countless female athletes with similar stories.

From her serene, humble yet confident and present state – almost matching this warmly sun-lit London apartment we’ve met her in – you’d forget that the 27-year-old will soon face the highest peak of any footballers career: representing her nation on the world stage.

Though Reading-born to a Scottish mother, Rosella’s bold decision in 2021 to reconnect with her heritage and represent her father’s home country Morocco has been respected and backed within the game. The African nation is only separated from Europe by the strait of Gibraltar between the Mediterranean Sea & Atlantic Ocean, but a weighty decision like that isn’t made overnight. However, such a decision is more than paying off for Ayane whose AFCON semi-final spot-kick against reigning champions Nigeria sent Morocco through to not just the tournament final but to this summer’s World Cup, making them the first Arab nation in women’s football to qualify.

“It was a crazy moment. I should probably read a dictionary because I need to find new words for it. The atmosphere out at AFCON was incredible. I was in Marrakesh a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t been there since that moment and the reception I got was surreal,” Ayane says, eyes beaming whilst reliving the experience.

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

“It just shows the stamp that we’ve put on women’s football. Obviously, the men did so well at the World Cup too and I think that shows that Morocco as a footballing nation respects both the men’s and women’s teams. That’s very evident and is still evident now from the hype we’ve got going into the World Cup this summer.”

“It took me a while to digest and realise what we’ve done,” Ayane says on the World Cup qualification that was seemingly against all odds. “I didn’t actually realise how much history we’d made until my family listed all the achievements to me. To be the first Arab country to qualify and to do it for the first time in Morocco’s history, it definitely took a while to sink in. I don’t know how much will feel real when we walk out against Germany in the first game.”

Whilst the success of this Atlas Lions team and the name of each player being firmly placed in the history books could be enough for Ayane, she remains far from the end goal of inspiring a generation of young girls across not just Morocco, but the world.

“There shouldn’t be judgment on young girls playing football and I think we as players of the women’s national team need to pave the way for girls to be footballers or whatever they want to be in life.”

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

“Then, with more investment, the support from brands like size? and the more the game is in the public eye, you’re only going to see it expand and young people will see us on the TV and in magazines like I never got to see. They’ll be able to grow up and say ‘I want to be like her’.”

Of course, it’d be wrong to talk about this summer’s World Cup without asking a star involved in her tournament predictions, something Ayane is more than happy to get stuck into. “Well, Morocco are going to be in the final of course, so that’s a silly question!” she says with a smirk that quickly turns into laughter.

“If, and it’s a big if, for some bizarre reason we aren’t in the final, you can’t take the United States lightly. The other team is really hard to choose. It really depends on who turns up during the tournament. You’ve got Germany, you’ve got France who will be a force and then Australia of course, who will do well since it’s a home tournament.”

“I’m going to say an unpredictable one and pick Australia. They’ve got a whole country behind them. People don’t realise it but that is like having two extra players, not just twelve players but thirteen! Having a home crowd and that buzz, full stadiums and everyone behind them will pay off. So my final prediction is Australia vs. the United States with the US coming out on top, but this is obviously only if Morocco gets knocked out for some bizarre reason,” Ayane smirks once more.

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

With the interest in women’s football growing with each passing day, players such as Ayane are now gaining social media audiences bigger than their male counterparts, with Ayane’s 217,000 Instagram followers surpassing many male Premier League stars. With that comes not just fame, but influence and responsibility, something the Moroccan doesn’t take lightly.

“Speak to any female footballer and they realise the depth and magnitude of being an inspiration,” Ayane says. “It’s something we’re very proud of. We want to help inspire the next generation and every player will sit here and say that. The bigger the game gets, the bigger we become as role models and that’s something I found out after AFCON last year. It’s something I’m very prideful of and I’m very happy to try to be the best role model I can be.”

That level of responsibility both online and offline is something previous generations of players have not been accustomed to given the lack of coverage in the game failed to allow major growth for athletes’ personal brands. For Ayane, the lack of coverage in her childhood prevented her from seeing football as a viable career option.

“If I’m honest, the coverage was non-existent when I was growing up,” Ayane admits. “I didn’t see the women’s game on TV, I didn’t see it as a profession and I didn’t see it as something I could make a living from. It was just something I fell into because I loved it and year by year, I slowly found myself becoming a professional footballer. It was just step-by-step.”

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

“One of my teammates, Becky Spencer, actually put a clip up of her playing in the FA Cup final for Birmingham donkeys years ago,” Ayane recalls.

“I remember saying to her, ‘I watched that game mate’ and I was only about 12. That’s probably the only women’s game I ever remember watching on TV. That needs to change and it is slowly changing thanks to platforms such as size? being serious about pushing our game.”

With more interest comes more investment which has no doubt increased the quality of the Women’s Super League, most notable by last season’s incredible to-the-end title race between Manchester United and Chelsea, with the Blues snatching another title late on. Ayane, who also found herself coming out on top of a battle towards the bottom of the table, believes such a level of competition is vital for the growth of the game.

“One of the reasons the Premier League in men’s football is so highly respected and watched globally is because you never know who is going to win week in, week out,” she says. “I think it’s starting to get to that point in women’s football. As you just said, with the title race, you didn’t know who was going to win until toward the end. I think it was the same with the bottom of the table too.”

“You didn’t know who was going to get relegated until the last game of the season. That in itself speaks volumes for where women’s football is going and it’s a credit to everyone who is involved. With that level of competition, the quality and viewership will only get higher.”

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

Whilst football is Ayane’s one true love, fashion is also a close contender. The rise of the football and fashion crossover no longer requires any explanation. At this point, being unaware of it would raise serious questions over where one has been for the past two years. Players from all around the game, from England to Italy and male players to female, are actively showing their fits off the pitch these days and Ayane is no different.

“I just think, with fashion, it’s my way to express myself away from football,” she begins. “From your clothes to the way you dress and style yourself, it can say a lot about how you’re feeling and your personality. I think when footballers get put in this box of just being footballers, fashion, music and all things culture-related are outlets to express yourself and prove that label wrong. Self-expression is one thing a lot of players, including myself, love doing through their clothes.”

“My outfits depend on where I’m going. One thing I will say about my fashion is it’s versatile. I haven’t just got one look or one thing I like to base my fits on. I love to glam up but I also love to glam down. When I open my wardrobe, it depends on the event and I like to fit in with the atmosphere or the vibe but describing my style isn’t black and white.”

At Tottenham, Ayane is not alone in her passion for fashion…

“Fashion is big in the dressing room, definitely. A lot of the girls come in wearing outfits if they’re going somewhere after training, so we’ve got some fashionistas at the club. I have to say Shelina Zadorsky is very well- dressed. She’s always coming correct and she’s always got the latest pair of trainers or she’s wearing a fit everyone rates.”

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

“Who could do with some help? Bless her… probably Kerys Harrop. She probably doesn’t care and fair enough, not everyone cares about fashion like that but some of the clobber she has on? I probably wouldn’t leave the locker room in. She probably wouldn’t wear what I wear and would say I look stupid in this,” Ayane laughs, pointing to her own fit. “Fashion fits everyone differently.”

No matter how fly Ayane looks today or on any previous day, nobody is immune to a fashion malfunction from time to time and unfortunately for her, the latest was only a few weeks back. “I was at an event and I was sat at the dinner table and it was like awards, so black-tie and glam-glam, and I could feel something itching my back,” she says, painting the scene of the calamity.

“I kept reaching towards it and thinking ‘What is on my back’. I said to my mate, ‘Have I got something on my back, like something crawling?’ and nobody had told me or realised that I’d left a massive tag in. So I’m walking around with what looks like a GPS vest on my back because the tag is still in my dress. That, for me, is my biggest malfunction and it was on a red carpet. I went straight to the toilet and asked my friend to rip it out of my dress,” Ayane says sending the room into laughter.

Footballers are competitive in anything they do. Ayane herself admits when she steps onto the pitch, her whole demeanor can change in order to get a vital win. So it’s no surprise that when it comes to fashion, players want to be the best. With athletes becoming more and more interested in fashion, a debate around who sits on top in the fashion stakes is to be expected and online, it’s already arrived.

For Ayane, naming a top-five list isn’t an easy task but as always, she’s happy to dive in.

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

“First, I’ve got to go with my girl Leah Williamson,” she says on the Arsenal and England star, who is also a close friend. “She comes correct at every event, you have to give it to her. Even if I go chill at her house, she’s wearing something decent and she’s just sat in her house so I’ll go with Leah as number one.”

“Do you know whose outfits I always rate but couldn’t personally wear? Lauren James and Shanice van de Sanden. Those two are always very well-dressed. Trinity Rodman has popped up on my explore page a couple of times and it’s always an outfit that you think ‘Okay, that’s lit’. Kenza Dali is clean and she’s a big sneaker girl, so I’ll go with her to make up my five.”

Leah Williamson. Lauren James. Shanice van de Sanden. Trinity Rodman. Kenza Dali. Some list.

Like fashion, music is another hugely popular way for athletes to express themselves without a ball at their feet. From players now making their own tracks to having their name referenced in bars, the music x football crossover is also undeniable. For Ayane, there’s no doubt in her mind when it comes to her music opinions, which she happily admits will be sure to annoy some people.

“I’m probably going to get a lot of heat for this but I don’t particularly care… I can’t listen to Taylor Swift. I can’t listen to her music and I don’t understand how her tickets are so expensive. Harry Styles is another one I can’t listen to. Sorry, I know I’m going to get hate for this. Harry Styles, if I had to, I could listen to him, but Taylor Swift? No. If she came on the radio, I’d turn it off immediately and listen to classical,” Ayane laughs.

Photography by Shane Bain. In partnership with size?

“My favourite track and one I’ll always put on the aux is Last Last by Burna Boy. It’s just a banger. It gets the room going and whatever the vibe, you can rely on that song and for me personally, it has a lot of good memories. I played it every game day at AFCON so it always brings back the good vibes.”

“Most underrated artist? Good question! I’d personally go with Tems. I think she has bangers! I’ve had her latest album on repeat recently and I’m quite bad if I like an album, I will drown it out until people are like ‘please stop’. I’ll have it on repeat with no care in the world.”

Ahead of the biggest summer of her life, Ayane is a pleasure to talk to. As relaxed as someone without an ounce of pressure on their shoulders, each response she offers is full of charisma, taking the time to provide depth to each response whether it be through humour or an inspirational tone as she discusses helping the next generation of Moroccans to see the dream she could never see. “You have to enjoy what you’re doing,” she says on her advice to young girls aspiring to be in her position.

“Whatever job you’re in, you have to enjoy it. That’s how the best version of yourself is going to come out. I think that’s major in football. Happy players off the pitch usually play well on the pitch so I think enjoying yourself is my main bit of advice. Even if you don’t want a career in football, make sure that whatever you do in life, you do it with enjoyment.”

Shop all of Rosella Ayane’s looks and the full size? Homegrown collection here.

In Partnership With: size?

Photography: Shane Bain

Conversation: Ryhanna Parara

Words: Jason Owusu-Frimpong

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