Ellis Taylor will receive a 'glowing endorsement' from Sunderland as the 21-year-old bids farewell to the club he has been a part of since he was a young boy.

Taylor's time as part of Sunderland's academy will draw to a close this summer after news emerged a new contract would not be forthcoming to remain at the Academy of Light beyond this season - a season which reached its conclusion in Sunday's 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League 2 play-off final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

A decision was made on Taylor's future heading into the under-21s' play-off campaign over recent weeks but the young defender has remained 'outstanding' according to academy head coach Graeme Murty in both his attitude and application during that time.

Taylor scored four times during Sunderland's run to the Premier League 2 play-off final, including a memorable hat-trick in the semi-final at Reading, adding to his five goals and two assists in 12 regular season appearances in Premier League 2. But having made over 70 appearances across varying age groups on Wearside, Taylor will now move onto pastures new next season as a player, and a person, held in the utmost regard by Murty and his staff for the way in which he has acquitted himself as a captain, both on and off the field, throughout a challenging period in the 21-year-old's personal and professional life.

"I’ve got nothing but the highest of regard for him as a young man," Murty told We Are Sunderland. "For a young athlete, to cope with the things he’s had to this year and to continue to be a leader and think outside of himself and put the team first at times, but also to maintain his professional standards, has been really difficult.

"Watching him deal with that and cope with that and come back and perform - someone is going to get a hell of a player. I just know whoever is going to get him they are going to get a glowing endorsement from us as a staff."

Taylor led his Sunderland academy team out in Sunday's final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and received a standing ovation from the travelling supporters he was keen to acknowledge both before and after the game. 

We Are Sunderland: Ellis Taylor captained Sunderland at the Tottenham Hotspur StadiumEllis Taylor captained Sunderland at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (Image: Sunderland AFC)

Although the result did not go the way Taylor and his team-mates had hoped against an impressive crop of Tottenham youngsters, he can walk away from the club knowing he did not lose sight of his role as a captain and a senior figure in such a young dressing room, even after news of his future was confirmed.

"I’ve just said in there, I think we all, as a staff and playing staff, are gutted we haven’t given him a trophy to go away with, because he’s been outstanding for us as a young man," said Murty.  

"His commitment to the group when, let’s be honest, he got that news he could have just walked away. He didn’t, he wanted to stay here and continue with the group and wanted to make sure that he led. I thought he led all the way through.

"Last week [against Reading] was outstanding for him individually and he got all of the headlines and rightly so, because he’s a very, very good player. He’s an excellent young man and we have said as a staff if there is anything we can do for him and anything that he needs, he can come to us. I’m sure with what he’s shown, not just this season but particularly in the post-season, there will be lots and lots of people banging on his door to make sure they get him signed and over the line.

"I can’t give him a high enough recommendation as a person."




Taylor signed his first professional contract with Sunderland in 2021 but was limited to just five senior appearances, including his debut against Port Vale in the League Cup. Taylor was part of the first team squad a further 25 times while also gaining brief Football League experience with Hartlepool United when on loan during the first half of the 2022-23 campaign. 

At 21, given the average age of Sunderland's first team squad, Taylor's opportunities at senior level appear limited moving forward, with the young defender now outgrowing the club's academy programme. Prior to his exit, Taylor remarked on his pride at being able to represent Sunderland for over a decade as well as offering his thanks for the club's influence in 'making me the player and person I am today.'

Taylor wrote: "[Sunday] was my last game in a Sunderland shirt after 12 years at the club. It's unfortunate with the way the game went but I'm so proud and honoured to have been a part and captained this team.

"I would just like to thank everyone at the club for the help, support and hard work they have shown to me over my time at the club. I've had some very difficult moments during my time, on and off the pitch, and I will forever be grateful of the way the club helped me get through them moments. 

"The club has been a massive part in making me the player and person I am today. I wouldn't have wanted to grow at any other place. I wish nothing but good things for this club. It's been an absolute pleasure to wear the red and white."

Taylor's quest to find a new club will begin in earnest, with, it's understood, interest from both non-league and the Football League already ongoing, while a decision will need to be made at the Academy of Light ahead of next season as to who replaces Taylor as under-21s captain.