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Vanessa Gilles: The CanWNT’s Dependable Centre-Back

Soccer: SheBelieves Cup-Brazil at Canada as Vanessa Gilles Dribbles the Ball at GEODIS Park

Vanessa Gilles’s career with the CanWNT started recently. However, in a short period of time, she has made her name with the Canadian national team and has a fantastic partnership with fellow centre-back, Kadeisha Buchanan.

Gilles was born in Châteauguay, Quebec, but spent the first 12 years of her life in Shanghai before moving back to Canada in Ottawa.

Vanessa Gilles: A Starter CanWNT Centre-Back


Gilles was first committed to making her career in tennis. However, she changed sports as this is what she said In Neil Davidson’s The Globe and Mail:

“[But] mentally it wasn’t for me. There wasn’t enough physical contact. So, I quit at 15 and [at] 16 I joined my high-school soccer team, actually as a ‘keeper. Also didn’t have the mentality for that, so made my way one [position] up since all I could do was head a ball. And [I’ve] stuck there ever since.”

This is how Gilles found her position as a defender professionally. She played for her hometown team, the Ottawa Capital United SC, and won a league title in 2013. Also, in the same year, with Team Ontario, she won a bronze medal.

In college, she regularly got playing time with the Cincinnati Bearcats from 2014-17. In 82 appearances, she scored 17 goals. She was named the American Athletic Conference Conference Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Tournament in 2015 and was the first Bearcats women’s athlete to earn both the preseason and postseason first-team accolades in the American Athletic Conference. Lastly, she was named the American Athletic Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.

Bearcats head coach, Neil Stafford, said this about Gilles when wishing her luck in the gold medal game against Sweden (source: Cincinnati Bearcats):

“If anybody outworks their talent, it’s you, and what a talented young woman you are.”

She also had five-game winning goals for the Bearcats. This included scoring a game-winning goal on October 30 against Temple.

Professional Career

Gilles first played for Apollon Limassol in Cyprus. She only played 11 games for that team but scored 10 goals within that timeframe. She proves successful there and this meant a move to FC Girondins de Bordeaux, a team that Gilles has played for most of her career.

The centre-back played for Bordeaux from 2018-21, where she played 65 games and scored four goals. She made her mark there and it played a big role in Gilles getting the start for the CanWNT in Tokyo 2020.

After her success in the Summer Olympics, she signed a deal to play for the expansion side, Angel City FC. She is still with Angel City FC but has been loaned to Olympique Lyonnais Féminin in France.

This is what Gilles said in Neil Davidson’s The Globe and Mail Article about joining the team from Los Angeles:

“I think this club was the perfect club for me for my next step after Bordeaux in terms of mentally, emotionally, on the field and off the field. It’s exactly what I needed. And I’m just happy to be part of something greater than just winning games, which is always fun. But setting a new standard, driving a new status quo has been fun as well.”

Vanessa Gilles – Canadian National Team Career

Gilles started her career with the CanWNT relatively recently. Her first game was behind closed doors against Switzerland and made her official debut for the national team against New Zealand at the 2019 Yongchuan International Tournament.

She played a major role in Canada winning the gold medal. She made a lot of fantastic defensive plays against the U.S. and made a late defensive play against Sweden to preserve the tie as the game went to penalties. She also scored a game-winning goal in the penalty shootout against Brazil.

READ MORE: The 2021 CanWNT Year Review – The Best Year Ever

CanWNT head coach, Beverly Priestman, praised Gilles for her outstanding play and the ability to play well in big moments as mentioned in John Molinaro’s CBC Article:

“What an absolute warrior,” Priestman enthused. “Top players play in big games like this and deal with threats, and I thought Vanessa was outstanding.”

She scored her first goal for the national team in the Arnold Clark Cup against Germany to earn Canada a 1-0 victory. Gilles has scored two more goals since then and has proven to have the ability to score goals, despite being a centre-back.

Games Coming Up

Gilles will be part of the CanWNT lineup as they get ready to play against France on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. That game will take place at 3:10 p.m. ET and will be shown live on OneSoccer and Telus. It would take place in Le Mans, France at Stade Marie-Marvingt.


Photo Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports on February 19, 2023, of Vanessa Gilles Headshot.


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