After Fiorentina's engrossing draw against Wolfsburg, we spoke to goalscoring English teenager Ellie Brazil about her summer move and making a dream come true on a cold night in Lower Saxony.
From Solihull to Firenze
This time last year there were few in England, outside those invested in the England under-17 squad, who knew of Ellie Brazil. The gangly teen had moved to Birmingham City from Derby Country and was fighting for minutes under former boss, David Parker, a full 90-minutes against Manchester City at Damson Park the most domestic action the English international saw last year. Three substitute appearances across the league and league cup all the Blue faithful saw of young Brazil as she featured heavily for John Griffiths’ youth team, first in at the U17 European Championships in Belarus before travelling to Jordan with the same group to contest the U17 World Cup.
With her star rising on the international stage, Brazil was well utilised by incoming Birmingham manager, Marc Skinner the former runner fast carving out a spot for herself in WSL. Another trip away with the Lioness cubs saw Brazil catch the eyes of more around Europe and just as the league was gearing up for the switch to a winter calendar, Brazil found herself courted by the reigning Serie A champions, trading guaranteed minutes in England for a chance to cross something off of her bucket list in Tuscany.
“The move to Italy was quick, very very quick,” the attacker starts in the mixed zone, freshly tracksuited after Fiorentina’s draw against the German champions, “I was at the under-19 Euros and…. It’s always been an ambition on mine to play in the Champions League. I always dreamt of it when I was little watching my club [Liverpool] play against AC Milan and all the big teams. I’ve always had to watch it because of my brother so I’ve always been like, “If I can play in the Champions League that would be incredible” so that was the main reasoning behind why I moved, and then everything else – they’re the reigning champions of Italy, why wouldn’t you give it a go whilst you’re young?” finishing with a grin, “It was a choice but it’s already so worth it.”
With six appearances over the league and cup for La Viola already, Brazil looks to have taken to Florence like a duck to water,
“I love it, the girls are great and I’m settling in perfectly,”
Though some things are more taxing than others,
“The language is coming, it’s slowing coming. It’s a challenge, which I enjoy – I enjoy going back to school and learning new things.”
Technical and classic
Classically chalk and cheese from the English game, the Italian flair for football – whether defensive catenaccio or quick technically proficient attacks – is something Brazil has long-since wanted to add to her repertoire,
“I think it’s a more technical game and that was a big part of my game that I wanted to develop and that’s a big reason why I moved, so, I guess there’s an aspect of physicality that in the WSL you don’t get. However in Italy it’s so technical, it’s a game I’ve always wanted to play but wasn’t able to before because I wasn’t at that standard.”
Having joined an exclusive club of Brits who’ve scored at the AOK Stadion, Brazil’s 81st minute header was enough for Fiorentina to deny Wolfsburg another Champions League win, though the tie was all but over after the first round, the sparkle of the second leg is all that remains for the teenager, though it may take a while to fully settle in,
“I wanted to play in the Champions League, that was always my biggest dream. Not playing in the first round but progressing to the second round, it was obviously a big drive for me to be able to play in the second round. I think scoring in the Champions League… it was a dream more than a reality but today it’s happened so.”
Though the focus has been more on pitch than the plate, Brazil admitted that when it comes to Italy’s favourite food she was a, “plain and boring,” type (or classic and refined, depending on your viewpoint), her favourite pizza, a Margherita.