Ellie Brazil interview: I would love to be Tottenham’s first Lioness, but Spurs is my main focus

·4-min read
Making an impression: Ellie Brazil  (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Making an impression: Ellie Brazil (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham head coach Rehanne Skinner has challenged one of her young English charges to be the club’s first Lioness this season — and among the likeliest to answer the call is Ellie Brazil.

The 23-year-old forward, a summer signing from Brighton, is currently part of England’s Under-23 set-up after coming through the age groups with a handful of the players who won the European Championship in July.

“I would love to be [Tottenham’s Lioness]!” Brazil told Standard Sport. “But right now, it’s blinkers on, fully focus on Tottenham and I’m enjoying it.

“If the call ever comes, lovely. If it doesn’t, I play for Tottenham. And that’s not a bad job title!”

She added: “I grew up with Alessia Russo, Ella Toone, Georgia Stanway, Ellie Roebuck, Lotte Wubben-Moy.

“You know what lovely people they are, you know their families, you know how much it means to them. To know the ins and outs of it made it [their Euro success] all the sweeter. We were all behind them.”

Though there is not yet a Lioness in Skinner’s squad, Spurs had two players at the Euros — Finnish pair Tinja-Riikka Korpela and Eveliina Summanen — and Brazil says everyone in the women’s game has been feeling the glow from the tournament.

“The fact we got that buzz from the Euros players [returning to pre-season] was quite special,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who actually have the gold medals.”

Brazil, who was speaking before the first round of WSL matches was postponed following the death of the Queen, was giddy at the prospect of Spurs’s original opening fixture at home against Manchester United at the men’s stadium, but she will not have to wait long to play in front of another bumper crowd.

Skinner’s side now begin the campaign against Leicester at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, before a derby with Arsenal at the Emirates.

I’d love to be the club’s first Lioness but, for now, it’s all about being fully focused for Spurs

“We’ve got a huge first month,” said Brazil, whose dad, Gary, had an 18-year playing career and is now the academy manager at Nottingham Forest. “The Emirates has 40,000 tickets sold. Off the back of the first two games, we’ve got, for the majority of us, our biggest game in front of the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of. It’s going to brilliant.

“The Euros has boosted the league, it’s only going to grow the WSL more. This season is going to be a special one.

“We’re going to get the top players in the world here, which is what we want. We’ve had it a long time but the Euros has solidified the fact that we have the best players in Europe in this league.”

The quality of Spurs’ squad has risen dramatically in the two years since their promotion, and last season they fleetingly threatened to break the stranglehold of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City at the top of the WSL.

They eventually fell away, finishing fifth, but this season may be the battle of the Skinners — Spurs’s Rehanne and United’s Marc — to be the nearest challengers to the established big three. “All the players in the league wanted Tottenham to do it,” Brazil said. “We all wanted another team up there. It has always been City, Chelsea, Arsenal.

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

“We have to fight with the top four and knock one of them out. It’s nice to be in a club that wants to do that.”

Tottenham’s ambition and style of play were big factors in Brazil’s “no brainer” decision to join them, and she has been bowled over by the club’s facilities and the treatment of the team.

“To see Tottenham’s high press against Chelsea last season, when most teams park the bus, was refreshing,” she said. “They are going to give it a go no matter who they play. That’s the style of play I loved as a kid.”

She added: “From the minute I stepped into this club I’ve told everyone we’re spoiled rotten. We’ve taken business class to America [on summer tour]. And the facilities we get — they mapped out our training pitch to be the same size as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium pitch for the first game of the season.

“If we’re treated that well, we have to give it back with wins.”