STEVE McCLAREN has predicted a bright future for Leeds United’s teenage midfielder Ronaldo Vieira.
The 18-year-old produced a sublime performance against McClaren’s Derby County on Friday night, showing a maturity beyond his years as an impressive Leeds side eased to a 1-0 win over their Championship promotion rivals.
There were a number of notable individual performances from the home side in the Elland Road showdown, but the Guinea-Bissau born youngster - who first arrived at the club on trial in 2015 - was singled out by the former England, FC Twente and Middlesbrough boss, who admitted his side were very much second best on the night.
“Midfield was a huge area,” said McClaren. “We talked about winning the battles and dominating that area, but I’m afraid Leeds dominated.
“(Ronaldo) Vieira, wow. At 18 years old he’s got a bright future. He ran the show tonight and gave us a bit of a lesson.
“Leeds deserved to win. We’ve got no excuses. We have to come back into work on Monday and get ready for Reading.”
McClaren, whose team sit seventh, eight points behind Leeds, had gone into the game confident his team could repeat the win they enjoyed over the Whites when the two met at Pride Park back in October, his first game back in charge of the club he was sacked from in May 2015.
A 2-1 win at West Brom in the FA Cup third round the previous weekend gave him further belief but it was not to be as they came up against a Garry Monk team in inspired form.
“I was so pleased with the win at West Brom but I’m so disappointed at the other end of the scale with that performance,” added McClaren.
“You wouldn’t think it was the same team. It just shows you have to be right at it from the beginning - we weren’t.”
Ronaldo, who scored a memorable, late match-winner at Norwich City in November, has made 19 appearances for Leeds this season, seven of them coming from the bench.
He himself showed his delight with Friday night’s performance and victory when taking to Twitter and posting: “So proud to be part of this squad! Unbelievable performance tonight, fantastic atmosphere at Elland road!!”