Patrick Bamford: Leeds United striker's journey to England first team
Patrick Bamford could make his England debut this month in the Three Lion's World Cup qualifiers.
“I knew I would never give up until the day I retired,” Patrick Bamford revealed on his first England call-up. “So it was just about hard work and keeping going.”
Patrick Bamford began his football career when he joined Nottingham Forest academy at eight years old.
He spent 11 years with the Reds, making two senior appearances for Forest before Chelsea bought the striker for £1.5m.
The 27-year-old, who is renowned for his education and well-to-do upbringing, was famously offered a soccer scholarship at Harvard business school but turned it down, preferring to pursue football in his home country.
Instead, at 19 years old, Bamford arrived at Cobham where he would spend little time over the five years of his Chelsea career, which was characterised by a series of loans out to other clubs.
He enjoyed successful spells at MK Dons, Derby County and Middlesborough, where he secured long stretches as first team striker across the Championship and League One.
His habit for goalscoring in the Football League earned him the interest of Premier League clubs, but he failed to find his shooting boots during loan spells with Norwich City and Crystal Palace, before a tumultuous personality clash with Sean Dyche caused Bamford’s time at Burnley to be cut short.
After earning a cap for Ireland at Under-18s level, Bamford switched allegiance and represented England at youth level. In 2015, Gareth Southgate called the forward up for the Under-21 European Championships, an opportunity he was unable to take up due to injury.
As a Chelsea player, Bamford wore six different shirts but not once did he pull on the jersey of the Blues’ senior team. In January 2017, the forward commanded a fee of £6m as he returned permanently to Middlesbrough, where he had won Championship Player of the Year on loan in 2015, who were now a Premier League outfit.
Bamford was the first choice striker at Riverside as Boro suffered disappointments in consecutive seasons, first being relegated from the top-flight, then missing out on promotion in the play-off semi-finals in the season that followed.
In July 2018, Bamford became one of the first signings made for Leeds United under the new head coach Marcelo Bielsa. The Whites paid £7m for the striker, making him the club’s most expensive signing for 17 years.
Bamford had a tricky start to life at Elland Road, struggling to hit his stride as he spent much of his first season in and out of the medical room.
In the 2019-20, the striker overcame fan and media criticism and the competition of hotshot Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah to become Leeds United’s top scorer in the club’s Championship-winning season, and his contribution helped the Whites end the 16-year wait to return to the Premier League.
Bamford silenced critics once again when he scored three goals in his first three games in the Premier League, and his end-of-season tally of 17 matched Son Heung-Min’s and put him joint fourth in the top flight scoring charts.
The 27-year-old’s prolific scoring in Premier League action put him firmly in contention for a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, but he narrowly missed out to Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins.
In August, Bamford finally got the call he had always dreamed of as Southgate named him in the England squad set to face Hungary, Andorra and Poland in qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
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