Only 22 years old, Julia Grosso has settled in well in Italy. Since signing for Juventus in December, the Vancouver midfielder has added Serie A, Coppa Italia and SuperCoppa titles to her Olympic gold medal with Canada.
Only 22 years old, Julia Grosso has settled in well in Italy.
Since signing for Juventus in December, the Vancouver midfielder has added Serie A, Coppa Italia and SuperCoppa titles to her Olympic gold medal with Canada.
“I feel like it’s just been exciting times… It’s always busy but I love it,” Grosso said of her recent football whirlwind. “It was really good.”
Grosso and Juve set their sights on Denmark’s HB Koge in Tuesday’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.
The second leg is on September 28 at Juventus. The 12 winners of the second qualifying round meet holders Lyon and other direct entrants Barcelona, Chelsea and Wolfsburg in the group stage, which starts in October.
Juventus reached the quarterfinals of the 2021-22 competition, losing 4-3 to Lyon in the two-legged quarterfinals in March.
Grosso started against the French powerhouse and helped Juve to a 2-1 home win in the first leg, which meant just Lyon’s third loss in their last 41 Champions League games (35-3-3). The Canadian was one of the substitutes for the second leg in France, which Lyon won 3-1.
Juventus go into Tuesday’s game following a 1-0 league win over Roma on Friday, with Grosso coming on in the 76th minute.
“Probably our biggest rival in the league,” Grosso said of Roma, who finished runners-up to Juventus last season.
Juve (2-0-1) are currently fourth in the women’s Serie A, while Fiorentina and Sampdoria sit at the top of the standings with perfect 3-0-0 records.
Football isn’t the only thing Grosso enjoys these days. Italian food was also a hit.
“When my parents came to visit, they said, ‘Oh my god, we can’t live here because we’re getting fat,'” Grosso recalled with a chuckle. “In our (training) facilities we have healthy options, but they always have pasta available and that’s why I try so hard not to eat it every day, just changing it up. But it’s really hard not to eat them every day.”
Grosso was 13 when she made her debut in Canada’s youth program in 2014 with coach Bev Priestman, who is now in charge of the senior team. She then represented Canada at U-15, U-17 and U-20 levels, including at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016 in Jordan.
Grosso was 17 when she made her senior debut for Canada on November 12, 2017 in a 3-1 loss to USA in San Jose. She attended but did not attend the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France.
Today, Grosso has 43 caps for Canada (including 15 starts), with three goals and three assists, most recently in Canada’s two wins in Australia. She started in the opening 2-1 win in Brisbane on September 3, working with Jessie Fleming in a deeper midfield pairing in a newly designed 4-2-3-1 formation employed by Priestman.
“It’s very fluid with me and her. We just know how we play,” Grosso said of the line-up alongside Fleming. “It was really good. I really like this formation.”
The trip Down Under gave the team a taste of what to expect at the Women’s World Cup, which begins next July.
Before Juventus, Grosso was a standout player in four years at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said of her time as a longhorn. “Texas is a great school… This team and the coaching staff are one big family.”
She also gives Austin a thumbs up as a “cool place”.
But Texas coach Angela Kelly, a former Canada international, was the main attraction of the program.
“For me, one of the most important things was a coach who understood that I was going with the national team,” said Grosso.
Grosso was in the spotlight after she scored the deciding penalty in Canada’s penalty shoot-out win over Sweden at the Olympic gold medal game in Yokohama on August 6, 2021. After the game ended 1-1 after extra time, Grosso’s penalty earned a 3-2 penalty shoot-out win after Stephanie Labbe saved Jonna Andersson’s penalty.
Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl got an arm on Grosso’s low left footed shot but couldn’t stop it. Grosso, who had come on as a substitute, was soon at the bottom of a celebratory Canadian dog poop.
Grosso, who says her role in the penalty shootout is often brought up when she’s back in Canada, recalls how focused she was on her task as she walked towards the penalty spot.
“I was so nervous. But as soon as I started going to the ball it completely went away and I was just so focused,” she said.
In Italy, she had the Olympic rings tattooed on her forearm. “Just kind of a spontaneous day,” she said.
England’s Manchester City and Everton, France’s Paris Saint-Germain and Spain’s Real Madrid have also expressed interest in Grosso before signing for Juventus.
“I’ve been a big fan of this club since I was a child,” said Grosso.
Everywhere the team bus goes, it draws crowds and reactions, she says.
“It’s like people either laugh at us or love us. It’s one or the other. But everywhere in Italy, where we go, it shows that everyone here knows football so well… Everyone pays attention to Juventus. It’s so really cool to be a part of that.”
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This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 19, 2022
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press