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Interview & Analysis: Getting to know Sunderland Women’s young starlet Grace Ede!

From Sunderland RTC starlet to senior team, it has been an incredible year for 17-year-old Grace Ede. We chat to her about life outside of football, and analysed her game.

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With the new FA Women’s Championship season just around the corner, our series of profile interviews and profiles, delving into their stats, and sharing our thoughts on them as both players and as people continues.

Want to learn more about your favourite footballer or fun facts about some of the lasses biggest stars? Then look no further....

Grace Ede

Where were you born? I was actually born in York, but I moved to the North East when I was around 3 months old and have remained here since.

Former teams you’ve played for? Growing up, I played for North East Sports Boys, Boro Rangers, Durham District, Durham County and Sunderland RTC before joining up with the Sunderland Women’s senior team.

Favourite food? For me, it has to be Italian food. You can never go wrong with an Italian dish, but I would say pasta is ultimately my favourite.

Who inspired or inspires you? My family have always been a huge inspiration to me. But in terms of football, Lionel Messi was someone who motivated me and still motivates me.

He sacrificed a lot when he was young and growing up in order to be the best he could be and became the best in the world. An amazingly talented player

Argentina v Estonia - International Friendly Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Favourite music genre/artist/band? I honestly listen to all kinds of music and genres. Wouldn’t say I have a favourite. What I listen to, just depends on my mood on the day.

Do you have any superstitions or pre-match rituals? Nothing in terms of superstitions or anything too exciting, but I always have to have Weetabix for breakfast before a game.

What would you sing on the team bus karaoke? You can never go wrong with anything Oasis and particularly Wonderwall! It’s a crowd pleaser, which almost everyone knows the words to and gets involved.

Any other hobbies? I wouldn’t say I have anything in particular besides football really. I enjoy shopping, going out with my friends, walking my dog and watching/participating in other sports.

If you weren’t playing football, what do you think you would do or want to do? Probably something sport related as I love being active and most sports, but it’s hard for me to picture anything other than a career in football really.

Who is your favourite women’s footballer past or present? There are a few players in today's game that I love to watch and have admired across both men's and women's football. But since I was little, my favourite player has always been Jordan Nobbs. She started off at Sunderland and is just an incredibly talented player.

Arsenal v Sunderland AFC Ladies - Women’s Super League 1 Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images

Snapshot Analysis

Whilst she may be a young and raw talent, Grace Ede has already showed glimpses of brilliance, intelligence and confidence, illustrating a great trajectory of improvement and refinery in her skills and ability.

Cutting in from the left in quest of opportunities to create chances for teammates, she is at ease anywhere on the front line. What makes Ede stand out the most is the unwavering focus with which she pursues goal and the ease with which she rips through defences with the ball.

She reminds me of a young Andrej Kramaric or Papu Gomez: an agile, tenacious, and immensely gifted wide player who can be disruptive. The significant benefits and ongoing thrill that come with this form of play more than make up for the fact that it may not always pay off.

Ede - Average ‘‘Heatmap’’

Simply defined, Ede is an exceptional athlete who, in terms of explosiveness, is only rivalled in the Lasses squad by recent addition Danielle Brown and Emily Scarr.

One of her go-to moves is to push the ball into an empty area with an intentionally heavy touch so that she can then sprint past the players and leave them stranded as they attempt to catch up, she gracefully raises the ante.

To beat opponents one-on-one, Ede alternates between two contrasting dribbling styles, frequently in the same frantic run - switching between direct, express train-like manner one minute, pulling wide of the player off the dribble the next, and then launching herself forward and kicking the ball into a gap in front of her. She then abruptly shortens her stride as she moves through a group of defenders with expert body positioning and close control.

Much has been made of Ede’s threat when she has the ball at her feet, but with her movement improving over the last six months, she is becoming just as dangerous when she doesn’t.

It would be fantastic to see Ede develop an eye for goal and being confident in her abilities to create opportunities or take a shot at the first time of asking, particularly as Sunderland’s most effective attacks come on the counter. Thanks in part to Ede’s deft timing in penetrating the opposition’s defensive line just as the ball is being fed into space for her.

For Sunderland Women last season, Ede regularly served as the primary out-ball on the wing in the absence of a more conventional centre-forward. Despite having a small build and frame, Ede’s exceptional balance and excellent upper-body strength allow her to pin defenders back when receiving with her back to goal and then use her low centre of gravity to spin away with the ball still at her feet.

She plays with tremendous passion and controlled aggression, pressing opposition players to force mistakes or make them go back towards goal. Again, an impressive quality considering her youth and relative inexperience.

Sunderland Ladies v Liverpool Women- FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Even though Ede likes to play high on the wing, she doesn’t require a lot of space in front of her to be effective. She has also demonstrated that she can work under pressure in confined spaces, using close control and quick feet to manipulate the ball as her strength helps her shield it.

She enjoys playing one-twos with her teammates while she is under pressure, using her speed to go past the defender before receiving the return. But she also does not shirk in her defensive duties and can be regularly seen defending from the front and dropping back to fill the gap left by the full-back.

Ede has demonstrated great potential with the senior side in her brief career and limited minutes and appearances. She continues to surprise me with each game, particularly in terms of her strength, participation in duels, and overall hustle.

Ede exudes confidence in her own abilities as she performs a variety of techniques from her repertoire, a view that Mel Reay clearly shares. has picked her to remain with the Sunderland senior side - despite the development of a new Sunderland U23 Women’s team.

Ede can only develop further and hone her artistry and technical aptitude by playing senior football against older and more experienced players. She does not look out of place and her teammates clearly have a great deal of trust, pride and confidence in the young starlet and can only benefit from having such strong support across the players and technical staff.

The future certainly looks bright for Ede and it is a privilege to see her grow within our squad.

2021-22 Season Stats (Averages)

  • Appearances - 11
  • Total Actions - 49.09
  • Passes - 21.14
  • Passing Accuracy - 75.3%
  • Crosses - 2.27
  • Dribbles - 3.98
  • Duels - 17.05
  • Aerial Duels - 0.91
  • Interceptions - 3.75
  • Recoveries 4.89

Ed’s note [Rich]: When I spoke with former Sunderland captain Steph Bannon a couple of weeks ago, she said that five years back Grace Ede stood out as the big talent on the horizon for the Lasses even as a 12 year old.

Last season she showed glimpses of why that’s the case. Now, with more high-quality, experienced competition in the squad, I think she will have to show all of that ability to gain a place in the starting eleven. That’s exactly what she will need to do to succeed in this game.

Whether the wing is where she will end up playing is another matter, and as Charlotte says, if she can add finishing to her game there’s going to be little stopping her becoming a real attacking star for club and country in the years ahead.


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