Aston Villa star Alisha Lehmann has learned to brush off the trolls who tell her to ‘stay in the kitchen’… while the social media sensation is garnering attention for her bikini snaps she is determined to let her football do the talking
- Aston Villa women’s star Alisha Lehmann has amassed a huge fanbase online
- Lehmann has had to combat trolls online who tell her to ‘stay in the kitchen’
- The Swiss international posts racy snaps but wants to be ‘seen as the footballer’
When your social media profile soars to 21million followers, you are bound to pick up a few haters along the way. By now Aston Villa star Alisha Lehmann has found a way to block them out as her incredible rise continues.
‘A lot of times people say: “women can’t play football, they should be in the kitchen”,’ Lehmann told Sky Sports this week.
‘You know what I think actually? It’s obviously not a nice thing to say because we train so hard every single day, but it gives me more strength.
‘I feel bad as my mum sends me stuff. I say to her: “Don’t read this, I would never read it”. I don’t really care (about the comments), to be honest. I just don’t read or look. I just flip it off and focus on the good comments.
‘It’s always easy to say stuff behind a computer. I don’t think people would stand in front of our female footballers and say: “You can’t play”.’
Aston Villa star Alisha Lehmann has found a way to block out the trolls after shooting to fame as a social media sensation
The 24-year-old has been labelled as the most popular women’s footballer in the world – with 21million followers on social platforms
With 13m followers on Instagram and 8m on TikTok, there is no doubt that Lehmann is one of most popular women’s footballers in the world – posting regular bikini pictures, dance routines – and her best goals and skills. The latter is ultimately what she wants to be known for.
Despite her growing following, the Switzerland-born star has stressed she never set out to become a social media sensation.
‘The people who know me always see the footballer,’ she added in the interview. ‘Every time I’m with my friends and family, I just speak about football.
‘It’s always been there, it’s deep in my heart as it’s the thing I’ve always done. The other stuff just came in time.
‘Obviously I have a lot of followers, but I never dreamed to have it. I just played and shared my life. It just became like this.
Lehmann has amassed a huge social media following for her football and glamourous photos
Lehmann insists she never dreamed of being a famous social media star and wants to be known as a footballer instead
‘I don’t think that I’m better than anyone else, I come from humble beginnings with how I grew up with my family in Switzerland.
‘I don’t see myself as someone with loads of followers on social media, obviously I’m proud of it – alongside my football – but it doesn’t change anything.’
Lehmann – whose following takes her above Alex Morgan’s 10m followers – has received attention for her abilities on the field in the Women’s Super League, as well as her impressive showreel goals.
But the star’s high profile life as a bisexual footballer, her relationships and racy photos of herself in glamorous locations around the world have stood out.
Mail Sport takes a closer look at Lehmann’s career and profile to date.
Lehmann’s career so far
Lehmann began her professional career with Swiss side Young Boys after breaking into the first team set-up in 2016.
She attracted the interest of Women’s Super League clubs following her performances for Switzerland at the Under-19 European Championships in 2018.
Lehmann played in all three group matches for the host nation, scoring twice, but her efforts were not enough to take Switzerland into the knock-out stages of the tournament.
West Ham were quick to move for Lehmann after the club’s then manager Matt Beard had been impressed with her displays.
‘Alisha is an exciting and talented young player. Her continued experience with the Switzerland national team will bring an increased level of ambition and game understanding,’ West Ham’s general manager Karen Ray said when confirming Lehmann’s signing.
Lehmann joined West Ham in 2018 after impressing for Switzerland in a youth tournament
Lehmann was among the players featured in a BBC Three documentary series in 2019
The forward scored a crucial goal to help West Ham reach the FA Cup final back in 2019
‘Matt expressed his interest in Alisha to us very early on and since joining the team after competing in the U19 European Championships, she has begun challenging herself and the others around her to raise the level.
‘Alisha will be a handful for our opponents and we are looking forward to supporting this next stage of her career.’
Lehmann was among the players covered during a BBC Three documentary titled ‘Britain’s Youngest Football Boss’, which charted Jack Sullivan – son of West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan – running of the women’s team.
‘But I didn’t know of West Ham women’s team because they’d been down the leagues,’ Lehmann admitted when discussing her arrival at the club.
‘We all come from different places and that’s why we are all together. We are like a little family. We have a very good philosophy in this team.’
Lehmann scored a crucial equaliser for West Ham in the Women’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading in 2019, with the Hammers ultimately booking their spot in the Wembley showpiece. Their debut appearance in the final ended in a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.
After scoring nine goals in 42 games for the Hammers across three seasons, Lehmann had a brief loan spell to Everton.
She completed a move to fellow WSL side Aston Villa in 2021, where she has made 40 appearances, scoring five goals. Villa have enjoyed a strong campaign this season with the team lying fifth in the table behind Man United, Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
The Swiss international, who has seven goals in 38 games for her country, will also have her eyes set on making an impact at this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
Social media fame
Lehmann is expected to be one of the most high profile players at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand due to her immense social media presence, which has made her one of the best known women’s football players.
The 24-year-old has amassed a vast number of fans, with 13m followers on Instagram, a further 8.2m on TikTok and 170,000 on Twitter.
Earlier this year Lehmann became the most followed Swiss athlete on Instagram taking the crown previously owned by legendary 20 Grand Slam champion tennis player Roger Federer.
Lehmann also wowed fans last month with a TikTok video, which showed her scoring an outrageous rabona during one of Aston Villa’s recent training sessions.
The 24-year-old forward executed the skill after her team-mate played the ball slightly behind her while she was running into the box.
Alisha Lehmann shared a clip of her scoring a sublime rabona goal during Aston Villa training
Lehmann is the most popular Swiss athlete on Instagram – with a huge 13million followers
Lehmann crossed her right leg behind her left to poke the ball into the top corner of the goal, prompting some fans to boldly compare her to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lehmann regularly shares updates from training sessions and games, as well as sharing a series of holiday pictures on her pages.
Much of Lehmann’s fame has on social media has been credited to her photos away from the pitch, having posted numerous bikini photos from exotic locations around the world.
Lehmann recently admitted in an interview with talkSPORT that she wants to be known for her prowess on the pitch, than being viewed as a social media influencer.
‘To be honest, I don’t really think about it,’ she said. ‘It’s not something where I wake up every day and think, “Oh my God, I have so many followers”. It’s more that it’s really nice, the support and everything and it’s also a big opportunity.
Some people just see Instagram and social media and don’t even know I actually play football, when I don’t post a football picture for a week, people say, “oh she doesn’t even play”.
‘I think sometimes it’s a bit hard because obviously I play like I train every day, like everyone else, like I play every weekend and sometimes it’s hard because they make a picture of you.
Lehmann has admitted her social media profile has benefits but comes with challenges
The Swiss international launched her own kit in the EA Sports FIFA 23 video game last month
Lehmann recently had social media exchanges with Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas
‘I’m a proper footballer. I work hard every day. I want to be the best version of myself in football and that’s my first priority in life.’
Lehmann’s ability on the pitch and profile off it have combined on occasions, with the star revealing last month the launch of her own kit in the FIFA 23 video game.
The Aston Villa star posed in the kit on her Instagram, with the shirt featuring the words ‘be brave’ and a rose inspired design.
‘My journey as a female player was not always easy and I think sometimes you need to step back to go forward again,’ Lehmann said.
‘I really like roses, as you can see like I love tattoos. I have a rose tattoo because I made it with my mum and sister together. And for me it just means family and happiness.
‘It’s so cool to have my own kit with my own initials on it, my own story. Just always listen to yourself, like, do what you think and what’s in your heart, do what you love the most and never stop dreaming.
‘I love football, I love to go training and do the stuff I love the most every day. I hope I can inspire young girls with that and they can look up to me and think I want the same.’
Lehmann recently entertained fans with a social media exchange with Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas and his younger brother Petros.
Petros had messaged Lehmann in February to suggest they play a mixed doubles match together, after she had posted photos her playing tennis with international team-mates.
World No 5 Stefanos then gifted Lehmann a signed tennis racquet, while she sent an Aston Villa shirt with her name on it in response after claiming to be ‘ready’ for a proposed doubles match.
Fans had claimed the two Tsitsipas brothers had been flirting with Lehmann, with their exchanges coming shortly after her relationship with Aston Villa men’s star Douglas Luiz came to an end.
The Villans pair reportedly confirmed their split in November having been a couple for a year.
Lehmann and Luiz had announced their relationship on social media at the time. They posted the same picture of them kissing with the caption: ‘I love you’.
Lehmann’s decision to do a raunchy calendar shoot was said to have caused issues between them.
According to the Sun, Brazilian star Luiz was supposedly not thrilled by his partner’s decision to take part in the photoshoot – which ultimately proved to be the breaking point for their relationship.
Aston Villa duo Lehmann and Douglas Luiz ended their year-long relationship last November
Luiz previously hit out Brazilian TV star Milton Neves over a controversial tweet about Lehmann
Lehmann was previously in a relationship with then-Chelsea player Ramona Bachmann
Luiz had previously hit out at Brazilian TV presenter Milton Neves, after he posted a video seemingly objectifying Lehmann. The TV host had tweeted a clip of Lehmann celebrating a goal by jumping and turning her back with the video appearing to zoom in on her backside.
The video ended with the question: ‘Without rewinding the video what number was on her shirt?’. Luiz responded angrily after Neves posted the video with the caption ‘watch and comment’, leading to the presenter deleting the Tweet.
‘You’re old, years in soccer and you post a video that does not respect women’s soccer or the player herself, who is also my girlfriend,’ Luiz said on Twitter.
Lehmann, who is openly bisexual, was previously in a relationship with Paris Saint-Germain women’s player Ramona Bachmann, who also plays for the Switzerland team.
Lehmann addressed their relationship in the BBC Three documentary. She discussed the challenge of playing for rival teams, with Bachmann having played for Chelsea while she was at West Ham.
Lehmann said: ‘She is really, really good, technical and fast. I am a little bit nervous but I think it will be a good game. If she scores I will feel really bad!’
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