Leeds United striker reveals coach who 'wanted to kill him' and brutally honest rival boss chat
Leeds United striker Joel Piroe has discussed his footballing education on the Official Leeds United Podcast this week, revealing he used to be a left-back.
The Dutchman came through the ranks at NEC Nijmegen, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven in his homeland before landing at Swansea City in 2021. Piroe left the Liberty Stadium this summer, putting pen to paper on a long-term contract with Leeds after a reported £12 million fee had been agreed between the two clubs.
Speaking on United's official podcast, Piroe has opened up on various topics, including his academy experiences which saw him tutored by the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Luc Nilis and Roy Makaay.
"At Feyenoord, I had Roy Makaay, we had loads of training sessions together, and then of course at PSV, I had Ruud van Nistelrooy and Luc Nilis," Piroe said.
Piroe has scored six goals in his first 13 appearances for Leeds this season and credits former Aston Villa striker Nilis with evergreen striking advice imparted to him during his early days at PSV.
"Nilis' technique, we learnt a lot from him, nowadays, often everyone just thinks about speed, power, they just want to shoot as hard as possible, but he would say "no, shoot with 30% less power but be more precise, and you'll get the job done."
However, Piroe was not always his coaches' favourite by the sounds of it, recounting a tale with ex-Bayern Munich striker Makaay at Rotterdam club Feyenoord.
"It's funny, when I think about Roy Makaay, I used to love trying to dink a goalkeeper or do something silly, and he was the one, even if you scored, he would scream at you, almost want to kill you and say "No! Just finish it!", that's just the type of guy he was, just keep it simple."
Upon moving to Wales, Piroe recalled another tale with one of his coaches, this time speaking about current Southampton boss Russell Martin, whose candid manager's office chat with the young Dutch forward Piroe still remembers.
"He took me into his office and we had a chat. He said in his mind, with the team as he knew it, he knew players like Matt Grimes, Jamie Patterson, Kyle Naughton and knew how he would want to work with them, but he didn't know me.
"In the first meeting we had, he said: 'I don't really like your intensity, I want to bring in another striker, so I'm going to take number 9 off you, you can have another number.'
"He said: 'it doesn't mean I don't want to work with you, you can still show yourself to me, but this is what I think at the moment and it's up to you to change my mind.'"
Piroe went on to score 46 times in 96 appearances for the Swans, subsequently earning his Leeds move, where he has continued scoring at a rate of once every other game.
If not for his coaches at regional club NEC, though, Piroe may never have made it as a professional: "I always scored loads of goals, even playing as a defender or a midfielder, so one of the NEC coaches just said: 'You know what, let's try him at striker', and it just stuck."