Desiree Ellis

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Desiree Ellis
Chile - Sudáfrica 20181009 19.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth (1963-03-14) 14 March 1963 (age 56)
Place of birth Salt River, Cape Town, South Africa
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
Saban United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1978–1984 Athlone Celtic 126 (51)
1985–1986 Wynberg St Johns 44 (22)
1987–1988 Joyces United 46 (28)
1989–1990 St. Albans City 54 (36)
1991–2002 Spurs Ladies 330 (231)
Total 600 (368)
National team
1993–2002 South Africa 32 (6)
Teams managed
2006–2016 Spurs Ladies
2016– South Africa
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15 August 2014

Desiree Ellis is a retired South African women's footballer and played as a midfielder. She played for Spurs Ladies. She is a founding member of the South Africa women's national football team and the second captain of the national team.[1]

Early life[edit]

Ellis grew up in Salt River in the 1970s. Stayed at her Grandmother's place after school as both her parents,father Ernest, (d. 1989) and mother Natalie worked during the day. There were no women’s clubs back then and she played soccer with boys and her cousins. After school she’d drop her school bag, change her clothes and run outside to her waiting teammates.Her father often threatened to send her to school barefoot because she'd ruin her shoes while playing soccer.[1]

Club career[edit]

Ellis eventually found another women's club,(Athlone Celtic was the first club she played for) Spurs Ladies while she still worked at a butchery in Lansdowne mixing spices. She once left town with the club over a weekend, promising her employers that she'd return in time for work but the vehicle the team was travelling in broke down on the way home, making her fail to arrive on time. Consequently, Ellis got fired.[1]

Outside football[edit]

She also had many administration occupations during her playing career. She was the vice-president of Western Province Women's Football Association from 1994 to 1995 and later the PRO of the association from 1996 to 1997. She also worked as a Chief Librarian at a photo agency, Touchline in 2001.[2]

International career[edit]

Ellis went for trials for the national team and passed and would feature in the team's first international match. She played against Swaziland at the remarkable age of 30 on 30 May 1993 winning 14–0. Ellis scored a hat-trick with two other players.[3] During the 1995 World Cup qualifiers, South Africa beat Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola on aggregate, 10–1, 11–5 and 6–4 but were halted by Nigeria beating them 11–2.[3] When South Africa hosted the 2000 African Women's Championship, she captained the side to a runners-up finish. In 2000, Ellis was nominated alongside Mercy Akide and Florence Omagbemi for African Woman Footballer of the Year.[2] Ellis was given recognition for her services to soccer in the same year when she received a Silver Presidential Sports Award. She also led the team to 2002 Cosafa Cup victory. In her 32 caps for South Africa she won 23 matches, lost just seven and drew two. She retired from soccer in April 2002 at the age of 38.[4]

Post retirement career[edit]

Ellis can be seen on TV as a soccer commentator and a pundit on local television station e-TV. She was an ambassador for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[4] She also worked at Gallo Images as a picture editor.[5]


  • Mobil Achievement Award by WP Sportswriters: 1980
  • Safa Women's Inter-provincials: 1986, 1989, 1992
  • Foschini Cape Woman Football Player of the Year: 1989, 1993
  • WP Player of the Year: 1983, 1993
  • Sanlam Sports Star of the Month (November): 2000
  • Safa Special Recognition Gold Award: 2001
  • Presidential Sports Silver Award: 2001
  • Mandisa Shiceka Role Model Award by ANC Youth League: 2001


  1. ^ a b c "For love of the game - IOL Cape Argus".
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b "South Africa - Women - International Results".
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ "Desiree Ellis - Who's Who SA".