Demarai Gray

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Demarai Gray
Demarai Gray August 2014.png
Gray pictured in August 2014
Personal information
Full name Demarai Ramelle Gray[1]
Date of birth (1996-06-28) 28 June 1996 (age 19)[2]
Place of birth Birmingham, England[1]
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[3]
Playing position Winger
Club information
Current team
Birmingham City
Number 7
Youth career
Cadbury Athletic
2006–2013 Birmingham City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2013– Birmingham City 52 (7)
National team
2014 England U18 3 (0)
2014– England U19 4 (1)
2015– England U20 3 (1)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 09:04, 30 August 2015 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 09:04, 30 August 2015 (UTC)

Demarai Ramelle Gray (born 28 June 1996) is an English professional footballer who plays for Birmingham City. A winger, he made his Football League debut in October 2013. He has represented England at under-18, under-19 and under-20 levels.

Club career[edit]

Gray was born in Birmingham,[1] where he attended Frankley High School and played for Cadbury Athletic's junior teams. He joined Birmingham City's Academy as an under-11,[2] and took up a two-year scholarship in July 2012.[4] In a 2013 interview, Gray described his strengths as "pace, dribbling and technique", felt he needed to "score more goals", and named Nathan Redmond as the biggest influence on him since joining the club.[2]

After impressing Birmingham manager Lee Clark in training, he was named in the squad for the Championship match against Millwall on 1 October 2013,[5] and made his senior debut as a 91st-minute substitute for Jesse Lingard in a 4–0 win.[6] He made his first start on 2 November, in a 1–0 league defeat at home to Charlton Athletic.[7] Gray signed his first professional contract, of two-and-a-half years, on 9 December.[8]

Days after his inclusion together with academy teammate Reece Brown in a "Top 10 Football League stars of tomorrow" feature on the FourFourTwo website,[9] Gray scored his first senior goal. Entering the League match at home to Blackburn Rovers on 19 April 2014 as a second-half substitute with Birmingham 4–1 down, Gray received a pass from Federico Macheda and shot low into the corner to score the final goal of the game.[10] His performance over the season earned him the Academy Player of the Season award for 2013–14.[11]

Gray performed well in 2014–15 pre-season, and the management suggested he was showing increased maturity.[12] He started the first two matches of the season, but for the remainder of Clark's tenure as manager, Gray was used more as substitute than starter.[13] Against Leeds United in September, he was denied a penalty and booked for diving when apparently fouled by Giuseppe Bellusci; both managers thought it the wrong decision.[14] The following week, his first goal of the season gave Birmingham a 2–0 lead at top-of-the-table Norwich City, but he became unwell in the second half. Norwich scored while Birmingham were attempting to substitute him, and the match ended 2–2.[15]

He made his first start under new manager Gary Rowett in the 1–0 win at Rotherham United on 22 November,[16] and soon established himself as the left-sided wide midfielder in a 4–2–3–1 formation as Rowett regularly named an unchanged starting eleven.[17] On his tenth league start, Gray scored three times in the first half of the match at home to Reading on 14 December, which ended 6–1. It was his first hat-trick since his under-14 days,[18][19] and Rowett praised not only his clinical finishing but also his work off the ball and tracking back to cover in defence.[20] His performances during December earned him the Football League Young Player of the Month award.[17]

Clark had expressed concern that the club's financial difficulties would force the sale of players such as Gray,[21] and the player was offered a two-year contract extension.[22] A £500,000 bid from Premier League club Crystal Palace was rejected in September,[21] scouts regularly watched the player,[23] and media reports linked him with clubs including Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.[19] The club turned down a series of offers, the highest reported as £5 million, from Championship club AFC Bournemouth in the January 2015 transfer window. In a statement issued when the window closed, they said that "none of [those offers] reflected the ability and potential of the player", and expressed their pleasure at having retained his services.[24]

With loanee Lloyd Dyer available as an alternative, Rowett used Gray more sparingly, suggesting that his reduced effectiveness was a normal part of a young player's learning curve: the player needed to learn how to impose himself on a game despite increased attention from the opposition.[25] The Birmingham Mail suggested that Gray's potential as a matchwinner should not be ignored.[26] His solo goal on 11 April, in which he ran the length of the pitch to score the winner against Wolverhampton Wanderers, was his first since the Reading match and earned him the club's Goal of the Season award.[27] According to the Guardian, "It was not so much the 18-year-old's pace that impressed as his persistence in running at and then pressurising Wolves full-back Scott Golbourne into error, and the certainty with which he then slid the ball past the Wolves goalkeeper".[28] He finished the season with 43 appearances in all competitions, of which two-thirds were as a starter, and won the club's Young Player of the Season award.[27]

After many months of negotiation,[22][29] Gray signed a new three-year contract with the club in July 2015.[30] He went into the new season feeling "stronger as a player, physically and mentally".[31]

International career[edit]

Gray was called up for an England under-18s training camp in November 2013.[32] He made his debut at that level on 18 February 2014, playing the whole of a 4–0 win against their Belgian counterparts in a friendly match at St George's Park.[33] Two weeks later, he was involved in England's goal as they lost 2–1 to Croatia in the first match of a double-header.[34] He received his first call-up to the under-19s for a friendly against Germany in September 2014,[35] and made his debut as a second-half substitute.[36] An ankle injury forced Gray's withdrawal from the squad for the 2015 European Under-19 Championship first qualifying round,[37] but he was able to play his part in the elite round. He started the first match, against Denmark, and was involved in England's second goal in a 3–2 win, when his near-post flick was deflected over the line by a Danish player. The Football Association credit Gray with the goal, although UEFA record it as an own goal.[38] A substitute in the second group match, a win against Azerbaijan,[39] he returned to the starting eleven for the final group match against France, but a 2–1 defeat meant England failed to qualify for the finals.[40]

After taking part in a joint training camp for the under-20 and under-21 teams,[41] Gray was included in Aidy Boothroyd's under-20 squad for the 2015 Toulon Tournament. Starting the opening match on the left of a three-man attack, Gray gave England an 8th-minute lead with a shot from 12 yards (11 m), but Morocco twice took the lead before Chuba Akpom secured a 3–3 draw for England.[42] Gray was a second-half substitute in the next match, a win against Ivory Coast.[43] He took no part in the third group game or the third place play-off,[44][45] and later admitted he had felt tired after a full season of league football and had not been at his best.[31] He was called up for the under-20s' first match of the 2015–16 season.[46]

Career statistics[edit]

As of match played 29 August 2015
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Birmingham City 2013–14[47] Championship 7 1 1 0 1 0 9 1
2014–15[13] Championship 41 6 1 0 1 0 43 6
2015–16[48] Championship 4 0 0 0 1 0 5 0
Career total 52 7 2 0 3 0 57 7

Honours[edit]

Individual

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Demarai Gray". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Blue kid on the block – Demarai Gray". Birmingham City F.C. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Player profiles: Demarai Gray". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "List of Players Registered as Scholars in Accordance with Rule C.3 Between 01/07/2012 and 31/07/2012" (PDF). The Football Association. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Tattum, Colin (1 October 2013). "Lee Clark: Demarai Gray is in the squad. He was superb in training on Monday". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Scott, Ged (1 October 2013). "Birmingham 4–0 Millwall". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Tattum, Colin (4 November 2013). "Birmingham City 0 Charlton Athletic 1". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Birmingham City: Demarai Gray signs two-and-a-half-year pro deal". BBC Sport. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Goldman, Joel (16 April 2014). "The Top 10 Football League stars of tomorrow". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Tattum, Colin (19 April 2014). "Birmingham City 2 Blackburn 4". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Walker, Andy (4 May 2014). "Robbo's double delight at #PA14". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Tattum, Colin (5 August 2014). "Teen star Demarai Gray keen to keep up pre-season form". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Games played by Demarai Gray in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Tattum, Colin (13 September 2014). "Birmingham City: Demarai Gray is not a diver says Lee Clark as Blues boss hits out at the penalty that wasn't given". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Norwich 2–2 Birmingham". BBC Sport. 20 September 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Dick, Brian (22 November 2014). "Rotherham United 0 Birmingham City 1". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  17. ^ a b c Scott, Ged (22 January 2015). "Demarai Gray: Birmingham City teenager unaffected by speculation". BBC Sport. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Birmingham 6–1 Reading". BBC Sport. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Dick, Brian (15 December 2014). "Birmingham City's Demarai Gray ignores speculation linking him with Newcastle, Liverpool and Spurs". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  20. ^ Dick, Brian (13 December 2014). "Clinical Demarai Gray delights Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  21. ^ a b Tattum, Colin (20 October 2014). "Lee Clark worried over Blues losing Koby Arthur and Demarai Gray". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "Birmingham offer Demarai Gray a two-year contract extension". Sky Sports. 16 December 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Dick, Brian (8 January 2015). "Demarai Gray not affected by rumours, says Gary Rowett". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Dick, Brian (2 February 2015). "Birmingham City beaming with delight after holding on to prized asset Demarai Gray". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  25. ^ Dick, Brian (12 March 2015). "Gary Rowett: Birmingham City prospect Demarai Gray has a first-team challenge". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  26. ^ Dick, Brian (11 February 2015). "Demarai Gray has a knack of impacting the game from the bench and four other things we learned as Birmingham City went down at home to Millwall". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  27. ^ a b Burrell, Jack (3 May 2015). "Donaldson completes hat-trick at the Players Awards 2015". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  28. ^ Rae, Richard (11 April 2015). "Birmingham's Demarai Gray's stunning winner dents Wolves playoff hopes". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  29. ^ Kendrick, Mat (6 February 2015). "Blues are ready to reward Demarai Gray's exciting emergence with a bumper new deal". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  30. ^ "Birmingham City: Demarai Gray agrees new deal". BBC Sport. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  31. ^ a b Suart, Paul (29 July 2015). "I'm much more confident ahead of the new season, Demarai Gray warns". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  32. ^ Veevers, Nicholas (5 November 2013). "England U18s squad named for training camp". The Football Association. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  33. ^ Callow, James (18 February 2014). "England pick up impressive victory over Belgium". The Football Association. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  34. ^ Veevers, Nicholas (3 March 2014). "England Under-18s rattled by Croatia comeback". The Football Association. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Three U17 Euro winners make step up to England U19s". The Football Association. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  36. ^ Hall, Chris (8 September 2014). "England U19s battle to hold hosts Germany to a draw". The Football Association. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  37. ^ "Internationals: Demarai Gray out of England U19 squad due to ankle complaint". Sky Sports. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  38. ^ Lavery, Glenn (26 March 2015). "Smith-Brown wonder-strike seals opening victory for U19s". The Football Association. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
    "UEFA European Under-19 Championship: 2015: Elite round: England-Denmark: Statistics". UEFA. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  39. ^ Lavery, Glenn (28 March 2015). "U19s grind out Azerbaijan win to close in on Euro finals". The Football Association. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  40. ^ Lavery, Glenn (31 March 2015). "England Under-19s miss out after defeat in France". The Football Association. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  41. ^ Dick, Brian (13 May 2015). "Birmingham City star links up with England squad". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  42. ^ Callow, James (28 May 2015). "Chuba Akpom spares England U20s blushes in Toulon opener". The Football Association. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  43. ^ Marshall, James (30 May 2015). "Impressive England U20s see off Ivory Coast in Toulon". The Football Association. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  44. ^ Callow, James (5 June 2015). "England U20s beat China to set up battle for third with USA". The Football Association. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  45. ^ Reid, Jamie (7 June 2015). "England Under-20s must settle for fourth after USA defeat". The Football Association. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  46. ^ Veevers, Nicholas (27 August 2015). "England U20s squad selected ahead of Czech test". The Football Association. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  47. ^ "Games played by Demarai Gray in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  48. ^ "Games played by Demarai Gray in 2015/2016". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 22 August 2015.