Brighton loanee Ben White responds to plaudits from team-mates, fans and Marcelo Bielsa, insists focus is on helping Leeds United achieve their dream
With team-mates, fans, commentators and even Marcelo Bielsa queuing up to say nice things about him, Ben White could be forgiven for allowing himself a moment to bask in praise.
But the Brighton centre-half, on loan to Leeds United for the 2019/20 season, says he is determined to keep his feet on the ground and instead focus on how he can improve on his impressive start to life in the Championship.
White is yet to miss a minute of Leeds' league campaign and the performances he has produced have earned both plaudits and awards.
United midfielder Adam Forshaw recently highlighted the 22-year-old's on-field intelligence, while club captain and White's central defensive partner Liam Cooper said the youngster had been 'different class' since arriving from the Premier League outfit.
Marcelo Bielsa has lauded White's consistency, something often said to be difficult for young players to achieve.
And Whites fans made their feelings clear when they voted for White to win the August PFA Fans' Player of the Month award.
“There is attention and praise and it’s really nice to see and hear it, but I know that I just have to keep focusing on making sure I’m the best I can be every time I step out onto the field," said White, in response to the rave reviews that keep coming his way.
“People keep saying how well I’m doing but I know I have to keep my head down and continue working hard for the team to make sure we get the results we need to achieve our aim at the end of the season.”
“What Adam said was nice to hear from one of my teammates, it’s a really good group and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the dressing room so far."
He is keen to share the credit for his purple patch of form with the man who has helped ease him into a brand new level of football and the man who is masterminding United's latest bid to return to the Premier League.
Until this season, White had never played in the Championship, so a seasoned veteran like Cooper alongside him in the heart of Leeds', constantly in his ear with instructions and advice, is a reassuring presence.
And Bielsa's ways, which took some getting used to, are paying off for White as an individual and the team, collectively.
“Playing alongside Liam [Cooper] has been great too, he’s been really good for me," White said, in an interview with his parent club. "His experience is really important for the side and he’s helped me to fit in with the team and will keep pushing me on to perform in the best way I can. We’ve kept our form strong and I’m delighted with how it’s gone so far, we’re doing really well.
“The hard work we put in during the week is showing in our results, as well as the things we did during pre-season before a ball was kicked.
"The manager’s attention to detail has been massive, I’ve said it before in interviews but it was different to what I was used to and I had to work hard before the season started - now it’s about doing what he wants from me on a consistent basis.”
To date, his career has resembled a ladder, with a new challenge on each rung.
White began his time in men's competitive football with a loan spell at League Two Newport County, where he was declared a 'joy to work with' by boss Michael Flynn.
After that came a step up, the second half of last season spent at Peterborough United where he made 16 appearances.
His performances in League One convinced Darragh MacAnthony, owner of The Posh, that White had 'all the attributes' to be a top class central defender.
And then, another leap in standard.
If White has found any element of life at Leeds United a struggle he has hidden it well, but insists he is being challenged by the Championship.
“It’s a competitive division and it’s been hard work physically - we train every day and don’t get too much time off, but I’m used to that sort of schedule from my time with Newport County in League Two," he said.
“This is the highest level I’ve played at in my career so far - it’s a mixture of physicality and good technical players within the teams that come down from the Premier League, it’s testing all aspects of my game."
The players he shares an Elland Road dressing room with and the fans who pack the stadium to watch him on a Saturday would surely all agree that, so far, he has passed all his tests with flying colours.