JAMES MILNER has left the door ajar for one day returning to Leeds United, admitting: “you can never say never” to a fairy-tale Elland Road return.
Milner left the Whites following the club’s relegation from the Premier in July 2004 with his switch to Newcastle United followed by moves to Aston Villa, Manchester City and now Liverpool where he is vice captain.
The 29-year-old is also eyeing his fourth major international tournament with England at Euro 2016 next summer but has not forgotten his roots at Leeds United or abandoned hope of one day rejoining them.
The Wortley-born star joined United as ten-year-old after being scouted playing for local junior side Westbrook Juniors with the footballer’s parents Peter and Lesley still living in Horsforth.
And Milner was back in the area this week when paying a visit to Leeds Trinity University as part of his role as Chancellor of the Leeds Children’s University.
Milner himself is now a young father with wife Amy having recently given birth to the couple’s second child, as five-week-old Zack became little brother to 16-month old Holly.
The young family still live in Manchester were Milner relocated to following his switch to Man City but Leeds United remains at the forefront of the midfielder’s mind.
Asked what the chances were of him ever returning to play for the Whites, Milner smiled: “That’s a question I get asked so often, all around the globe as well, and that shows what a big club Leeds is and the number of fans they have.
“Leeds United fans are everywhere.
“I could be in America or I could be in the Far East on tour with the team, or in Europe or in Liverpool or Manchester and you get Leeds fans coming up to you saying ‘I’m a Leeds fan, when are you going to come back.’
“I’ve been to some pretty different places and asked that question and I always have the same answer – you never say never and it’s so hard to say in football what’s going to happen.
“Things change week to week and that’s the nature of football.
“I want to play at the highest level possible for as a long as I can and hopefully Leeds get back in the Premier League.
“That’s obviously where they belong.”
Several of United’s emerging crop of exciting youngsters clearly also eventually belong in the country’s top flight and Milner has particularly high hopes for 18-year-old midfielder Lewis Cook.
Indeed, Milner is so passionate about Cook’s cause that he would have no qualms if the Whites teen star eventually took his own place for England.
“Hopefully he does at some point, I hope he does,” said Milner.
“It’s the same with him as it is with a lot of young English talent.
“We get a glimpse of a talented youngster and the pressure is hyped on them straight away.
“You have seen things like with Jack Grealish at this moment in time and I think at times we just have to let these players develop and enjoy their football.
“I have high hopes for him and want him to do well but he’ll have to learn to deal with the pressure of top flight football at a young age because unfortunately that’s the way the game is now.
“There’s media, non stop, 24 hours a day, things like that but I just think let them develop and enjoy their football and let their performances on the field take them where they want to go.”