'I'm very happy' - Leeds United man opens up on difficult loan spell after dramatic late winner

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Leeds United loanee Rasmus Kristensen says he's happy in Rome and enjoying the confidence of Jose Mourinho, despite a difficult start to the Serie A experience.

Kristensen was one of a number of players who left Elland Road to go on loan in the summer thanks to relegation clauses in their contracts. The Danish international joined fellow Whites defender Diego Llorente at Roma, but it hasn't been plain sailing for either man. Llorente has started more games but suffered a hamstring strain that disrupted his campaign. Kristensen, meanwhile, missed out on a place in Roma's Europa League squad and has started just six times in Serie A. But after coming on to score a heavily-deflected winner at Sassuolo at the weekend, Kristensen was delighted to be able to carry out his manager's instructions.

"He just said I had to go in, show a lot of energy, arrive in the box, believe in myself, play forward, play aggressive and try to create something and that's what I tried to do" said the right-back, who has often featured further forward than the role he played in for Leeds last season.

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"Happy to be able to help the team and to finally get an away win. Really, really important three points to keep us in - we're now in fourth or fifth place. It was a really important win. After we suffered one goal we fight, we fight, we fight and we got the win."

Kristensen dedicated the goal to everyone who has helped him since the move from Leeds to Roma, including Mourinho, and he insists he's content at Stadio Olimpico despite his early struggles. He said: "The people who've supported me, obviously my family, especially my girlfriend. It's also the team, the coaching staff, [Roma director] Tiago Pinto. From the beginning I felt like they really put their faith in me and I had some good games, some not so good games. It was a difficult start, trying to adapt to a new country, a new culture, a new language. But I'm very happy in Rome and I'm very happy with the belief and confidence the manager has in me. It's not every day, and for me it's a massive boost to have that confidence from the manager. He put me in today, he believed in me and that's all a footballer needs sometimes is just the belief and then you have to deliver. I'm very happy I gave something back to the team."

Kristensen struggled in his debut season at Leeds, following a move from RB Salzburg, when he was reunited with his former boss Jesse Marsch. Kristensen initially looked set to take over at right-back from Luke Ayling but lost his spot just before the turn of 2023 and sat on the bench as an unused sub for a run of nine out of 10 Premier League games. The 26-year-old eventually returned to the starting line-up and finished the season playing at centre-back. In his absence Leeds have strengthened that side of their defence with 17-year-old Archie Gray currently holding down the right-back role. Spurs loanee Djed Spence is fit again to contest for the position, while Ayling remains an option for Daniel Farke.

Roma sit fourth in Serie A, level on points with fifth-placed Napoli and 11 behind league-leading Inter Milan. Mourinho created headlines after the win over Sassuolo by speaking to the media in Portuguese, despite being fluent in Italian.