Leeds United's Charlie Cresswell: the young centre-back hoping to follow in Pascal Struijk's footsteps

Leeds United defender Charlie Cresswell hopes to make a breakthrough into Marcelo Bielsa's first team in the same way fellow centre-half Pascal Struijk did.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 3:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 3:44 pm
Creswell is known for his vocal contributions on the pitch. Pic: Getty

The Whites Under-23s skipper boasts leadership skills beyond his years.

"I'm confident,” Charlie Cresswell said upon committing to four more years with Leeds United in August this year. “I’m a leader. I like to play and I like to head it!”

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An assured self-assessment from the young player who, having been with the Whites for eight years, recently captained the Under-23s side to the Premier League 2 Division Two title.

Cresswell’s trophy lift capped off an explosive season for the Under-23s as they topped the table while competing in the division for the first time, and head coach Mark Jackson has been very complimentary about the young centre-back’s leadership skills.

Raised in York, Cresswell is the 19-year-old son of ex-Whites striker Richard Cresswell, who scored nine goals across two seasons at Elland Road in the noughties.

Since joining Leeds United at the age of 11, Charlie has ticked off many key milestones in the journey of a young footballer, starting with the signing of his first professional contract in September 2019.

Cresswell on his senior debut at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

A year later, Cresswell made his senior debut for Leeds United, playing 90 minutes of a league cup tie with Hull City.

The following month, the defender earned his first international call-up, scoring on his England Under-19s debut in a friendly against Scotland at St George’s Park.

At the close of the 2020/2021 season, Cresswell’s impressive stint as Leeds Under-23s skipper earned him a nomination for Premier League 2 player of the year, and the youngster’s progress caught the eye of Lee Carsley, head coach of England Under-21s, who recently summoned him for the Young Lions’ friendly with Kosovo, which Cresswell watched from the bench.

The 19-year-old has found a place on Marcelo Bielsa’s bench for four games across the Premier League and League Cup this season as the Argentine named him in all but one of his matchday squads so far.

Cresswell delivering instructions. Pic: Getty

As well as gaining experience of senior football, the youngster has kept the armband for the Under-23s, leading the PL2 newcomers through a strong start to the season, taking seven points from four games.

Cresswell has spoken openly about the way he and the other academy players look up to Pascal Struijk who, once a regular fixture with the Under 23s at Thorp Arch, has successfully graduated into the first team and is challenging more experienced internationals for their place in the back line.

Not short of role models, Cresswell has also revealed the positive influence of Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper, often asking them questions in his quest to develop his game and break into the senior squad.

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Cresswell celebrates. Pic: Getty
Pascal Struijk. Pic: Getty