Leeds United youngster reveals 'important step' in career after rare transfer and international development

Leeds United forward Mateo Joseph has shared his pride at being able to represent Spain's Under-21s after switching allegiances from England earlier this month.
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The 20-year-old recently signed a contract extension at Elland Road and has switched back to representing the country of his birth at youth international level following a brief period with England's Under-20 side.

Joseph made his debut for Spain's U21s against Slovakia last week and is in contention to feature again versus Belgium on Tuesday before heading back to Thorp Arch for Leeds' Championship run-in.

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Speaking to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF)'s in-house media channel, Joseph shared his thoughts on representing Spain: "It has been a very important step, I believe, in my career and I am very grateful, very happy to be able to be here.

"It's a dream come true and I hope to help the team in every way I can and especially on Tuesday against Belgium. It feels amazing.

"Luckily my mother was able to be at the stadium [vs Slovakia] and I am excited and, as I said, very grateful to everyone. It's an incredible group. I haven't seen many groups like this, to be honest, and that makes us special," the forward added.

Joseph had been tracked by Spain U21 coach Santi Denia since his time in the Espanyol academy, which preceded his transfer to Leeds two years ago. Denia admitted in a recent press conference that Joseph's breakthrough with Leeds this term had influenced the decision to approach the 20-year-old once more with a view to convincing him to switch international allegiance back to Spain as well as predicting that Joseph could potentially impact the senior squad in future.

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"We also believe in Mateo for the future, not for the U-21, which is important in these two games, but for the future of the federation I think it can be important."

The striker can no longer declare for another country, despite not yet making an appearance at senior international level. Typically, players who have represented one country at youth level and in non-competitive senior fixtures are still able to switch to represent a nation they are also eligible for. Due to the circumstances surrounding Joseph's citizenship and registering for La Rojita, he is now locked in to representing Spain.

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