'A lot of people ask me this' - Cody Drameh on Cardiff City loan, Leeds United and what next

Cardiff City loanee Cody Drameh is saying little about his future but his football is speaking volumes about the player Leeds United will welcome back this summer.

By Graham Smyth
Friday, 1st April 2022, 1:48 pm
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 1:50 pm

Drameh, who hasn't yet heard from Jesse Marsch, is maintaining contact with his parent club through Mark Jackson, previously the Under 23s head coach at Thorp Arch before a move into the first team set-up.

Jackson struck up a good relationship with the right-back and is acting as the link between the parent club and its player during what can already be deemed a successful loan spell.

Drameh was the man chosen to speak to the media on behalf of the Bluebirds ahead of Saturday's South Wales derby at home to Swansea City and while that game dominated the discussion, his future was always going to be a talking point.

THRIVING: Cardiff City's Leeds United loanee Cody Drameh, left, pictured clearing the ball from Derby County's Lee Buchanan in last month's Championship clash at the Cardiff City Stadium. Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images.

For a 20-year-old with very little media experience he handled the occasion before the occasion well, giving the pressmen an anecdote from an encounter with a Cardiff supporting postal worker who recognised Drameh in the post office.

A grinning Drameh recalled the fan scribbling 'good luck' on his parcel and made reassuring noises about understanding the size and importance of the game against bitter rivals.

It wasn't long, however, before he was facing questions that all successful loanees face, questions that for a young man happy to admit he pushed for a temporary exit from Leeds felt inevitable.

His January departure was not Marcelo Bielsa's wish, yet it happened all the same and with 14 starts from 14 Championship games under his belt Drameh can be satisfied that his decision was vindicated.

"It was to get games and through getting gametime to showcase my talent," he said.

"I'm very grateful to the manager and coaching staff for putting their faith in me and giving me an opportunity to get game time and experience to showcase the best of my ability.

"I was the one who forced it through so obviously there was confidence on my end to go out and play football. There wasn't any type of pressure for me.

"Most of the lads at Cardiff give me a bit of banter if I make a bad pass, they'll be like 'oh he's from the Premier League' but there hasn't been any pressure.

"I don't think it was a gamble because the manager [Steve Morison] reassured me I would be playing.

"In myself I thought I was ready to play so it wasn't really a gamble, it was just whether I could step up to the challenge of the Championship and hopefully I've done that."

Cardiff fans will tell you he has, adapting quickly to the frenetic pace and fiercely competitive nature of England's second tier.

The international break still came as a welcome breather, though.

"It's my first time being in the Championship and games come thick and fast so it was nice to get a little rest," he said.

"I just went back to London to see family and friends.

"This is my first season if you like in a first team setting so going from 23s football, very spaced out, very relaxed, a game once a week, to games three times a week sometimes, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, it's very demanding.

"I've had to adapt but I think the coaching staff have used their experience and helped me out to adapt to the games.

"I'm not going to disrespect Premier League 2 because it's a very good league but I did feel I had outgrown it on a football level.

"The step up from PL2 to Championship is massive but I would encourage players to try and get out and play men's football as soon as possible, I don't think PL2 prepares you for certain things in men's football.

"The step up is quite a big one. I don't think it's anything that anyone can't handle."

Drameh gives a lot of credit to Morison and his staff for making him feel welcome and helping him to handle the switch.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Bluebirds and their fans would dearly love to see Drameh make Cardiff his permanent home.

Home is where you make it and Drameh is making it, in style, with his loan club.

But his contract at Elland Road runs until 2024, there is no option to buy in the loan agreement and Leeds want him back in the summer as Marsch sets about building the squad he wants to take forward into next season and beyond.

On that front there's little the player can say, even if the whole world knows that Premier League football and international honours are his ambitions.

When two potential career paths are opening up, diplomacy is always the best and safest route.

"I know a lot of people ask me this question but I just want to get through these remaining games and in the summer think about what I need to think about and go from there," he said.

"I'm fully focused on these next games.

"I can't really give too much away, I know you're trying to get me to answer but I'm focused on the next games.

"I haven't [spoken to Marsch] and I understand that because obviously he's focusing on a big job he has to do at Leeds. Likewise for me, I've got to focus on a big job I've got to do at Cardiff. I guess in the summer we'll meet.

"I've spoken to Mark Jackson a few times.

"He's a very good guy, he keeps in touch with me and I've kept in touch with him as well and congratulated him when he got the promotion to the first team.

"I was really happy for him because he's a really, really nice guy. He tells me to keep up the performances."

The fall-out from Drameh's move earlier this season was perhaps a little more dramatic than it ought to have been, but Bielsa's comments about the desire for loan moves in players so close to a Premier League starting XI caused a stir.

Drameh looks at the situation simply through the filter of game time, or likely game time. Had he stayed, he would have been back-up, whereas Cardiff were offering almost guaranteed competitive match minutes.

"I know there was a lot of injuries at the time, that's probably why he wanted me to stay and provide cover," he said.

"It's a very fragile squad - it gets injuries a lot - so I understood it from that standpoint."

Ultimately for the loan move to have been worthwhile he has to report back to Thorp Arch in the summer a better player than the one who left.

He has watched Leeds' games under Marsch on television and spotted differences from the Bielsa regime - a 'more structured' approach with less emphasis on being the side everyone wants to watch.

He is satisfied that he's different too and all the better for the move.

"I think in my playing style it's changed a bit because of the roles I've been asked to do," he said.

"I play a bit more attacking at Cardiff compared to Leeds.

"There's a lot of stuff that's changed in my game.

"As a person, handling situations a bit better.

"Speaking to the media - I didn't really speak to the media before when I was at Leeds but I've picked up a lot of stuff from watching interviews.

"It's exactly what I wanted.

"I've started all my games I've been available for here. It's just about the game time, the experience and hopefully showcasing my ability."

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