September 2008 saw Leeds United return to Brunton Park, just a few months after the famous night that defined Jonny Howson’s career at Elland Road.
But as Leeds and Carlisle United renewed hostilities, it was another youngster who grabbed the attention of the fans who made the trip to Cumbria.
Sixteen-year-old Aidan White, who had only made two appearances prior to the match, was seen as a surprise inclusion on Gary McAllister’s team sheet as he made his full league debut.
Having joined Leeds’ academy in 2002, White was a little-known left-back and his appearance in the first team was unexpected for all but McAllister, pictured right.
“He hasn’t come out of nowhere for me,” United’s manager said.
“He caught my eye the day I arrived here. It’s been a case of fast-tracking the kid.
“Rather than nursing these youngsters along, if they’re good enough then they’re old enough and they’ll be pushed.”
White showed no nerves and produced an accomplished outing in front of 12,000 fans at Brunton Park.
His natural pace was an aspect of his game which showed why McAllister had turned to the young teenager.
Greg Abbott, Carlisle’s assistant manager who had worked for Leeds as a youth-team coach, heaped praise on White in the post-match press conference after United recorded a 2-0 win.
“For a 16-year-old, I thought he was incredible,” Abbott said. “He’s got a fantastic feel for the ball and he’s so comfortable on it.
“Throwing in a 16-year-old is only a risk if the kid’s not good enough.
“Aidy White is good enough, it’s as simple as that.”
White went on to make over 100 appearances for his hometown club but injuries and intermittent form prevented him from pushing his Leeds career to the next level.
At one stage he looked set to follow in the footsteps of other academy products by sealing a move to the Premier League.
White chose to stay at Elland Road but, despite his initial promise, the defender’s opportunities were increasingly limited and Leeds released him in 2015.
Upon leaving United, White said: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to play for my hometown club for so many years. It’s something I’m extremely proud of.”
By then, his impressive league debut at Carlisle felt like another lifetime. Leeds’ 2-0 win, earned through goals from Luciano Becchio and Jermaine Beckford, kept them in touch with League One leaders Oldham Athletic, three points off the pace. Their first goal came after a Paul Telfer kept a Neil Kilkenny corner alive and Becchio volleyed home from 10 yards. Beckford then wrapped up the win by finishing off a classy breakaway move four minutes from time.
Speaking afterwards, Telfer said: “Not everyone is bothered about the table at this stage but it’s better to be leading the way than chasing other clubs. It would probably suit us to be out in front. We’re close to the top at the moment and if you get there then you have to make sure you stay there.
“That’s the challenge.”
Under McAllister, Leeds were unable to rise to it.
Leeds United: Lucas, Richardson, Marques, Telfer, White, Hughes, Kilkenny, Douglas, Delph, Beckford, Becchio. Subs: Howson, White, Snodgrass, Kilkenny, Robinson, Becchio.
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