I’ve always held with the saying that good enough is old enough. It was true of me and quite a few of the other lads I played with at Leeds United.
My debut came at the age of 15-and-a-half and I’m still the club’s youngest ever player.
When the call came from Don Revie to tell me I was getting my chance, my first reaction was: “What took him so long?”
I know that sounds big-headed but at the time I was confident in my own ability. To be a very successful footballer, you need unshakeable belief.
I’m sure the likes of Eddie Gray had it too and if you went into the academy at Leeds now you’ll find kids there who have the same mindset – desperate for a go and desperate for an opportunity, even though they’re barely out of school.
I can see that level of confidence in Lewis Cook. He’s only 17 and a lot of people hadn’t heard of him before the summer but when he’s on the pitch, he looks like he’s got 10 years of professional football behind him.
There are little phases where his performance drops and he starts to tire but in terms of skill and attitude, he’s right on the money.
It’s just a fact that the one thing you can’t override is your body’s need to develop and get stronger.
At the moment a lot of people are asking why it’s taking so long for Adryan to break into the first team at Leeds. He was a high-profile signing in the summer – someone Massimo Cellino fought hard to bring here – and on top of that, he’s a Brazilian playmaker.
Football in Brazil has an established philosophy and a certain reputation but there’s a danger in assuming that any Brazilian youngster is going to be dynamite.
Adryan might be exactly that and a lot of people think highly of him but like any emerging footballer in this country, he’s going to come through in his own time and at his own speed.
It probably didn’t help him that he joined Leeds in a period when the team were putting together a pretty decent run of results.
You don’t break up a winning side for the sake of forcing someone into it and if we’d struggled against Bournemouth or Huddersfield then it wouldn’t have surprised me if Neil Redfearn had turned to Adryan.
But from what I can gather, the club think he needs a decent run of training and Under-21 games to get him fully up to speed.
I know the average fan would probably chuck him into the side without thinking twice – and I have to admit, I’m looking forward to seeing how he does – but the fact that he’s Brazilian doesn’t make him different to anyone else
If he’s not quite ready then Leeds would be doing him no favours by throwing him in straight away. We’ve said many times that the Championship is a unique division. I suspect it’s very different to Serie A or the Brazilian leagues.
I’m not suggesting for a minute that the standard is better but it’s a hard, rugged division – a division where you’ll struggle badly if your physique isn’t up to scratch. There’s definitely room in the Championship for players like Adryan and you almost feel the more skill the better but that skill won’t shine unless Adryan’s conditioning is 100 per cent right.
My assumption would be that it isn’t quite there yet. Otherwise you’d have to ask why someone with his reputation and ability is being left out.
If he was ready to start tearing up the Championship, no coach in their right mind would be overlooking him.
Essentially, Adryan’s time will come and when it does he’s got to jump on his chance. He’s got to show why Leeds signed him and prove that he deserves a place week in, week out.
That’s the challenge for every youngster at Thorp Arch, whether they’ve come through the academy or come in from abroad.
It’s the same challenge we all faced 50 years ago. You’re in the team on merit or you’re not in it all.
What matters most here is that we’ve got lads like Adryan in reserve.
We’ve got enough strength in depth to prevent him being rushed into the side. Playing that laddie before he’s ready wouldn’t do anyone any good – and least of all him.