‘Could now we have a ball? My little lady desires to play with it’.
It was a query that the supervisor of an area boys’ group in Essex used to listen to each weekend. He most likely didn’t realise, although, that little lady would go on to grow to be one among Arsenal’s most promising academy merchandise, one followers have been disillusioned to see be part of rivals Manchester City in the summertime of 2021.
Ruby Mace featured off the bench a couple of occasions for the Gunners’ first group earlier than a productive mortgage spell with fellow Women’s Super League facet Birmingham in 2020-21, however, after 11 years at Arsenal, she would signal her first skilled contract elsewhere. Editors’ Picks
“When I bought the decision to say Man City needed me, it was very onerous, however I really feel prefer it wasn’t as onerous as I believed it was,” Mace, an England youth worldwide, tells GOAL, having had a number of months to replicate on her resolution.
“This is a giant membership and each groups needed the very best for me, however I really feel just like the plan Man City put out for me was going to profit me greater than what Arsenal put out for me. I really feel like a chance like this, I could not flip it down.”
It was on the sidelines as a toddler, whereas watching her older brother play, that Mace began to forge the trail that led to that first professional deal.
She was simply 4 years previous when her mom inspired her to check out for a boys’ group only one pitch over. Mace was profitable, and along with her new group was scouted by West Ham, the place she performed for a yr.
Then, aged six, got here the possibility to affix Arsenal.
The affect the Gunners had on her is obvious. Her technical means stands out, notably her means to make use of each toes, one thing she recollects there being large emphasis on at Arsenal.
The tactical focus would come later, serving to to develop Mace into not solely a proficient younger participant, however a really versatile one.
“I used to play right-back after I was 5, six [years old],” the now-18-year-old says. “Then after I went to Arsenal, you performed in all places, each place, a unique place each recreation. I used to be a winger one recreation, then I used to be left-back, after which I simply grew into taking part in midfield and centre-back.”
It is the latter that has grown to be her favorite. Mace spent the second half of final season taking part in in midfield for Birmingham, an expertise that taught her rather a lot about herself.
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“I really feel like each younger participant must expertise that earlier than then deciding what they wish to do,” Mace says.
“I might have gone to Birmingham and I won’t have been on the degree to then transfer to Man City. I might need needed to go to the Championship. I really feel like as soon as I did that, I believed to myself: ‘If I preserve working onerous, then I might be able to this large transfer’. I really feel like that basically like decided my subsequent transfer.”
That switch was by no means going to be straightforward for a 17-year-old very near her household, however Mace has at all times identified it isn’t straightforward to achieve the highest.
“When I used to be youthful, I used to have this one-to-one coach. He at all times used to speak to me about [Cristiano] Ronaldo, as a result of Ronaldo had a tough childhood, together with his household and stuff, and he needed to work for what he had,” she remembers.
“When I used to be youthful, I used to idolise him as a result of – I really feel – he is had a a lot more durable journey than me, however mine has nonetheless been onerous with household and stuff.”
While adjusting to the transfer to Manchester – the “hardest” factor in Mace’s profession up to now – her first summer season with City was an odd one. Only a handful of gamers have been in coaching and no pre-season fixtures have been scheduled, as a result of variety of gamers concerned within the Olympic Games and a few accidents.
But it gave Mace alternative to spend daily with England worldwide Alex Greenwood, which each she and head coach Gareth Taylor have highlighted as being very invaluable.
“I fairly idolise Alex,” Mace says. “I really feel like she’s an excellent function mannequin to me and he or she’s at all times helped me. She’s at all times guided me by coaching, even when at occasions I’m not doing what I should be doing. She’ll come and ensure I’m alright. I really feel like being round her brings out my recreation in a greater manner, which is admittedly good.
“For me, I had six months to show that I need not exit on mortgage. I’ve spoken to Gareth about that, how that is my fundamental goal for the season, to show to him that I’m adequate, to work onerous in coaching and present that I do not should be a mortgage participant.”
She has made nice strides doing that during the last couple of months. In November, she made her WSL debut for City, and has accomplished 90 minutes on 4 events since throughout the league and Continental Cup.
Mace has proven that she is able to carry out for Taylor’s facet each this season and within the long-term, and City imagine that they’ve introduced in a participant with a really brilliant future.
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