Former Leeds United midfielder reveals Liam Cooper's exit advice amid Marcelo Bielsa gratitude

Former Leeds United midfielder Nohan Kenneh has revealed that Whites captain Liam Cooper encouraged him to join Hibernian F.C.

Thursday, 30th June 2022, 6:00 pm

Last month, the 19-year-old departed Elland Road before earning his senior bow with Leeds in the hopes of finding first-team opportunities at the Scottish Premiership side.

Kenneh played a role in the Under-23s’ emphatic promotion season, taking the PL2 Division Two title in the first season of competing in 2021, before playing almost every minute as the young Whites failed to resist relegation last term.

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Despite being in the thoughts of both former United manager Marcelo Bielsa and current boss Jesse Marsch, Kenneh regrets not playing for Leeds’ first team and has taken action to progress his career – despite an emotional connection to the West Yorkshire side.

"I’d been at Leeds since I was 11 and it was a hard decision to leave, but I wanted to play first team football,” said Kenneh, who is capped for England at U16 and U17 levels.

"Hibs offered me that and I felt it was the best move for me. It was my decision to leave and the time was right for me to go. It wasn’t good for me to be playing just 23s football. I needed to prove myself. I felt the Scottish Premiership is a top league and I’ve got myself here which is good.”

Whites captain Liam Cooper, who competes for the Scotland national team, encouraged Kenneh when the youngster was deliberating the Hibs move.

“I’d watched the Scottish league before but when Hibs were interested in me I studied the Scottish league more and the history of the club,” Kenneh told the YEP’s sister paper, The Scotsman.

"When I heard the position they’re in I felt it was the right fit.

"The skipper knew some of the boys like Paul McGinn and told me it would be brilliant, to go there and to just play my game and prove myself.”

Though he never stepped onto the pitch for Leeds’ seniors, Kenneh was kept close to the first team by Bielsa, who named him in nine Premier League matchday squads this season before the Argentine’s successor also took a shine to the midfielder.

Speaking during pre-season with his new club Hibs, Kenneh praised Bielsa’s role in his development and spoke highly of the former Whites’ boss’ unique methods.

"He was massive. His style of play is different to every other manager. His attention to detail is good and I felt he improved me massively tactically,” said Kenneh.

"He had a translator but he could speak a bit of English. Everyone knew his game plan and everyone adapted to it.”

“[Murderball] was one of the toughest training sessions ever. It’s like a mini-sided game, the coaches are around the pitch and every time the ball goes out the ball goes back in,

"There are no fouls or offsides, everyone is just fouling each other. It’s hard but obviously it helps your fitness because when you’re playing a proper game it feels easier.”