Patrick Bamford reveals 2022 aims as Leeds United striker sets bar high after 'best year of life'

Patrick Bamford has the toughest of tasks topping 2021 but Leeds United’s No 9 is determined to try.

By Joe Urquhart
Friday, 31st December 2021, 6:00 am

The 28-year-old believes, genuinely, that the last 12 months have seen him produce some of the best football in his professional career to date.

Bamford entered the summer knocking on the door of an England call-up having batted away repeated interest from Ireland at international level.

His case for inclusion at the delayed Euros was a strong one, scoring 17 Premier League goals and notching seven assists in total across 2020/21.

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A first full term as a top-flight footballer at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa was the stuff of childhood dreams, aiding the club’s ninth-place finish with Leeds taking the top tier by storm.

It was, though, the culmination of years of hard work that had gone before. In September, his first Three Lions call finally came from national-team boss Gareth Southgate and a debut followed swiftly against Andorra.

Injuries have put a small dampener on the final few months of an otherwise year to remember for Bamford - both professionally and personally.

“I found out I was going to be a dad as well, so it’s probably been the best year of my life,” he told The Yorkshire Evening Post, over his feelings towards an impressive year all round.

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford. Pic: Getty

“I haven’t actually sat back and thought about it being a good year, really. But, thinking about it properly, it has definitely been my best year to date - on the field it has been brilliant.

“It could’ve gone better [with the injuries] but it was one I thoroughly enjoyed. I had a good season and got my first call-up to England. The cap really was the cherry on top because it was something that I’ve worked towards since under-18s when I first got called up. It was something that I was desperate to achieve.”

So, how do you top the best year of your life in 2022? By making the next one even better. Bamford will take his first steps into fatherhood off the pitch while on it he has his eyes firmly on a trip to Qatar in November.

“I set myself targets but, generally, it is to always improve on what I did the previous season or year,” Bamford continued.

“The target for me is getting back fit and getting match fit, so I am playing regularly. I want to score as many goals as I can with an eye on getting back into the England set up. It was unfortunate that as soon as I got called up it was a game or two later that I got injured. That was frustrating.

“But that is my target, now that I’ve had a taste of it I want to get back there.

“I loved it so much that it is probably the main aim of this year.

“The fact that there is a World Cup at the end of the year is an added incentive. But it’s up to me to prove my worth again.”

For now, though, the short-term goal is set firmly on a return to action with Leeds and immediate thoughts are already on Sunday’s clash against Burnley in LS11.

“I’m terrible,” Bamford laughed, when asked if he had been a good spectator after making just six appearances this season.

“When I was younger, I used to love watching football and love watching my team when it was just being a fan and you weren’t part of it.

“Now that I’m actually part of it, I get more nervous watching Leeds play than I do if I’m walking out the tunnel myself.

“It’s horrible. I’m itching to get back out there and swap spectating for actually playing.”