'It gives you shivers' - Illan Meslier hails Leeds United as a special club with 'crazy' atmosphere

Illan Meslier has described Leeds United as a 'special club' - hailing the Elland Road atmosphere and support.

Sunday, 13th June 2021, 6:00 am

The 21-year-old shot stopper made 35 Premier League appearances for the Whites last season in his first full year as number one under head coach Marcelo Bielsa

Meslier - who made his move from French outfit FC Lorient permanent last summer - enjoyed an impressive first campaign in the top flight, winning the club's young player of the year award.

He quickly made a name for himself as one of Europe's best rising talents between the goalposts, pulling off a number of memorable saves.

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Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier. Pic: Getty
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier. Pic: Getty

"It's a special club because of its history," Meslier told Le Telegramme.

"It's a bit like Saint-Etienne and Lens back home. There is an exceptional atmosphere in the stadium, with great supporters who like to make noises and sing songs - which I don't understand - but there are no insults in England.

"It's a crazy atmosphere like in Liverpool, Manchester, it gives you the shivers.

"At Leeds, it's 36,000 fans at normal time, it's really the twelfth man, it's beautiful. You love it. Just a defensive tackle, the stadium stands up.

"lWhen I make a save, everyone applauds. After that, you have to perform well."

"At one point, I did not perform as well as I should have, but I was always encouraged, I was never spat on. The only ones who sent negative messages were the French. I have great respect for the fans because they have always been there for me and I hope to always be there for them."

Meslier was just 19 when he joined the Whites on loan in the Championship with a handful of first team experience in Ligue 2 - France's second division.

Two years on, though, he has adjusted to life in West Yorkshire and is now an established first choice Premier League goalkeeper having made a name for himself as a wild celebrator of goals - be it in the dugout or on the pitch.

"The city is big with a nice centre," Meslier continued.

"When I go to the stores or in the street, many people stop and ask me for a picture. Others don't dare. In reality, I may be impressive because of my height (1.96 m), because they don't realise it on TV.

"Otherwise, my life is training.

"From the beginning, I focused on football because nobody knew me and I had to show who I was and make a name for myself.

Meslier is now enjoying a well-earned break after tasting defeat with France in the quarter-finals of the Under-21s European Championships.

Questions remain over second choice goalkeeper Kiko Casilla but United's number one is under little pressure for his spot.

That said, he is always looking to improve and progress.

"Even if I have progressed in the air, I can still improve," Meslier added.

"I wonder if my room for improvement could be in strength training, to gain leg power.

"In the Premier League, it is certain that the aerial game is very important.

"The corners, the free kicks are very well taken, it's very athletic and the goalkeepers are protected less, less than in France where if you touch the goalkeeper with your hand, [the referee] whistles.

"There are blocks that are made on the goalkeepers to prevent them from going out [to meet the ball]."