Leeds United’s relationship with World Cup semi-finalist Danny Rose is a complex one.
Sold to Tottenham Hotspur without having made a first-team appearance for the club 11 years ago this week, the left-sided wing back is in so many ways an image for everything that is good about the club’s academy.
On his day, Rose is a world-class footballer, as good as any of the big-time players reared on the training grounds of Thorp Arch.
But his £1 million move away from West Yorkshire was an acrimonious one, with then-chairman Ken Bates questioning the loyalties of a 16-year-old who had turned down Chelsea just a few months before.
It came at a time when Football League clubs were being all too easily raided for young players, when compensation tribunals were all too often siding with the bigger clubs and when Leeds themselves saw a raft of their talented youngsters move on.
It became something of an obsession for Bates, who had earlier been pickpocketed for the talented duo of Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods by the Stamford Bridge club. And he used his Leeds United programme notes as a platform to express his frustration.
In one March 2009 entry he wrote: “The saddest thing I read this week was that Danny Rose has gone on loan to Watford from Spurs until the end of the season. When Taiwo and Woods foolishly went to Chelsea, Danny refused and stated that he loved Leeds.
“Twelve months later he disappeared into the obscurity of the Spurs training ground. These things should be remembered when parents are considering their son’s future… fast buck now or long-term career prospects?”
Bates, of course, got this one wrong. Unlike so many starlets who were fast-tracked from provincial academies into Premier League reserve sides, Doncaster-born Rose has gone on to fulfil his potential.
Alongside fellow former White Fabian Delph, Rose’s bit-part role in England’s charge to the semi-finals of this year’s World Cup was an important one.
Now 28 with 23 international caps, Rose has every right to consider himself a senior member of Gareth Southgate’s set-up.
The World Cup came after a turbulent club season for a troubled Rose, now 28. His honest and open discussion around mental health issues in football has been quite rightly praised.
“It’s no secret that I’ve been through a testing time at Tottenham this season,” he admitted during his pre-tournament media duties.
“It led to me seeing a psychologist and I was diagnosed with depression, which nobody knows about. I haven’t told my mum or my dad, and they are probably going to be really angry reading this, but I’ve kept it to myself until now.”
Such honesty showed a strength of character that has served him well throughout his career. Humble in his off-field approach, his all-action style of play has been a key factor in Spurs’ success in recent years.
With Ashley Young approaching his mid-30s, he’ll be expected to regain a starting berth for the national side, too.
He speaks fondly of his Leeds days, and alongside Delph, Lewis Cook and others, his progress is something of which Leeds United should be very proud.
He said: “Growing up in the north, at that time, Leeds United were probably the best academy along with Manchester United, without a doubt.
“Whenever I meet up with Fabian Delph, we always talk about those days and how good they were.”