Crysencio Summerville makes honest Leeds United 'pressure' admission as key teammate 'connection' explained

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The Dutch winger has been Leeds United’s talisman this season and can lead them to the Premier League on Sunday.

Crysencio Summerville is relishing the challenge of being Leeds United’s talisman going into Sunday’s Championship play-off final clash against Southampton.

Summerville’s 29 goal contributions have played a major role in Leeds coming within one win of a return to the Premier League, with the 22-year-old often relied upon to deliver in times of need. So often the winger has been United’s man for the big occasions and an ability to consistently produce earned him the Championship’s Player of the Season award ahead of some impressive names.

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Leeds supporters expected big seasons from the likes of Georginio Rutter and Wilfried Gnonto but few predicted such a huge impact to come from Summerville, who started just 12 Premier League games during last year’s relegation. Amid the chaos of multiple exits and transfer requests last summer, the Dutchman never agitated to move on and instead shifted focus to cementing himself as a first-team start under Daniel Farke.

“I said to myself one of my goals was to be a key player for Leeds United this season,” Summerville told LeedsLive of his reflections last summer. “Some people call it pressure, but I just call it challenging myself. I like that and I love to be important for the team and to carry a team in a good way. Not only with goals and assists, but also through leadership on and off the pitch.”

While emphasis this season has so often been about what Summerville can do, the winger has benefitted massively from a team that functions around him so smoothly. Rutter directly set up six of his goals during the regular season - a tally bettered only by Leif Davis and Conor Chaplin of Ipswich Town - while Junior Firpo has been a constant option on the left-hand side.

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It was Firpo who bagged the assist on Thursday as Leeds put Norwich City to the sword with a thumping 4-0 play-off semi-final second-leg win, the left-back reacting quickest as Angus Gunn palmed out Gnonto’s effort before cutting the ball back to Summerville. It’s that kind of telepathy that has seen the left-sided pair dovetail so well this season.

“Through the season our connection grew a lot,” Summerville added of his relationship with Firpo. “I love to play with Junior on the left and we feel each other like water. I can only say it’s been good. Normally, some people could take a shot, but he had a look, saw me and thought ‘Okay, Cree is in a better position’ so he played me the ball.

“It’s always good to have a good team and also a good friendship in your team. As soon as [Rutter and Gnonto] came in, I saw them as my brothers. Our friendship has grown a lot this season, so I’m very happy to play with them. You can tell on the pitch.”

All four of Summerville, Firpo, Rutter and Gnonto will likely start on Sunday and form the bulk of United’s attacking threat. But it will no doubt be the former who makes the decisive action - as he has done so often this season.