Eniola started her Bachelor of Laws (LLB) at Brunel University London in 2005, a year after she first played for England, and two years after she was named Young Player of the Year by the FA – a glittering start to her sporting career which led to her being dubbed the Wayne Rooney of women’s football.
As there was little money in football for women at the time she started playing, she realised she needed a second profession - Law.
She graduated from Brunel with a first class honours in 2008, and took some time out from her footballing career to do the American Bar exam before qualifying as a solicitor in London in 2015. Eniola is now an associate consultant in the corporate team of the international law firm Slaughter & May in London.
She believes that girls should not be forced to choose between a football career and academic studies, calling on clubs to give girls the same chances as boys.
“My issue is young, talented players not having to compromise their education. The men’s academies have partnerships with colleges or universities, whereas we don’t really have that in women’s football. You don’t want an 18-year-old girl who’s very talented thinking: ‘I want to play for the first team but I’ve got to give up my education to do so.’ That has happened a lot.”
Eniola, who currently plays as a forward for the Italian club Juventus, has also made 102 appearances for the England national team from 2004-2016, as well as being signed with Chelsea FC where she played from 2012-2018. She supplemented her playing career as the first female pundit on Match of the Day in 2014, a guest editor of Women’s Hour in 2016 and a pundit for Channel 4 during the women’s Euro 2017 championships. Most recently, Eni has been on our TV screens as a pundit for the World Cup 2018.
Adding to her long list of achievements Eniola has joined the Guardian as a new columnist where she will be sharing her views and experiences on women’s football, the Premier League, the EFL and football administration.
Speaking at our Alumni event earlier this year, Eniola gave tips and advice to our students and alumni in the room. For exam and study success, she highlighted the importance of “applying knowledge in the right way to fit around the reading” - the key being in the application, something she found all too crucial when studying Land Law at Brunel. Described as the subject that “terrified her,” she was quick to say that it was this fear that drove her to work hard and succeed - earning herself an ‘A’ grade in the process - and highlighting the importance of “realising your weaknesses & bouncing back from failure,” taking the “opportunity to learn and succeed.”
Crediting her dissertation - and enthusiasm for her topic - as a key moment in earning her first class degree, she went on to emphasise not only the importance of this for our current students, but the value of having passion in all you do. When it comes to life after Brunel, she was quick to encourage the audience to take that passion and “network, network…and network some more!”
For Eniola, being in a high profile profession “comes with responsibility,” but importantly, is also “an excellent opportunity to help people and promote women’s rights.” In looking at her role and opportunities to be had, Eniola reminds us about her drive for “implementing change - not just for me, but for others.”
Her passion for Law came from reading To Kill A Mockingbird at school. “I’ve always been interested in Law. I remember when I was young I absolutely loved Atticus Finch [from the film and novel To Kill a Mockingbird]. I watched the movie over and over again and I used to walk around the house quoting him all the time. I loved the way he helped the defenceless and was a voice for those who didn’t have a voice. I really liked the idea of having a voice for the voiceless, getting someone justice against the odds. That really resonated with me.”