Proud moments for club and country with Leeds United's magnificent seven - David Prutton
LEEDS United have seven players heading for the Euros, which is amazing.
I’ll always compare it tongue in cheek to when I rocked up as a player at Leeds. I don’t even think there were seven players under contract then to be honest.
Now Gjanni Alioski, Liam Cooper, Mateusz Klich, Robin Koch, Diego Llorente, Kalvin Phillips and Tyler Roberts are all heading to the European Championships to represent themselves and their families but they will also know they are representing an iconic football club.
International call-ups and players heading for major tournaments has always been what this club has been about.
The team of decades gone by was stacked to the rafters with internationals and then you hear about the international breaks when the team was fighting for the Champions League places at the very top.
Back then nobody would have been around Thorp Arch during the international break as just about everybody would have been off with an international team!
It’s touchingly nice that it’s now edging back towards those types of days.
I hate to say ‘glory days’ because that is then an interpretation of what glory is and whether it is trophies or a good feeling.
But it’s glorious in the sense of what Marcelo Bielsa has done to build a united front both on and off the pitch and into the stands and through television screens when everybody has been watching.
Now is the time when you can look at these players for what is a wonderfully proud personal achievement.
But I would also like to think that they understand what it means to be part of the collective of representing Leeds United.
If you look back on your CV and you have managed to tick off playing for Leeds in the Premier League alongside representing your country at a major international tournament then you have ‘made it’ as a professional footballer.
It means you have made it as an elite-level player so that’s a wonderful thing to be able to look back on.
Hopefully, when it comes down to how the tournament goes, there will be lots of players who rock up whenever pre-season starts for them with some amazing stories to swap and it is something to be really celebrated.
England boss Gareth Southgate was given another reminder about not taking Patrick Bamford to the Euros in last night’s friendly against Romania at the Riverside when a group of fans kept on chanting Bamford’s name.
Not being included in the squad was a ‘sliding doors moment’ for him but, having heard Patrick talk about it, he is very magnanimous.
You can tell that he is the type of kid that is very level headed and puts everything into perspective, knows how wonderful it would have been but possibly gets his head around the reasons why he didn’t go.
That’s not to say that you have got to wholeheartedly agree but you have to accept it and he has shown a graciousness to understand that big squads have to be whittled down to slightly smaller squads.
Hopefully, given the age that he is, there are no doors shut and, if you are a Leeds fan, then you hope that he benefits from that.
You hope that he comes back absolutely flying for pre-season and ready to prove any more doubters wrong that his spot within international football is there to be grabbed and chased down.
That can only benefit him and Leeds United as a football club. Another of the Leeds players missing out is the club’s player of the year, Stuart Dallas, given that Northern Ireland did not qualify.
But Stuart has epitomised what has become so likable across the board about Leeds United. Across the ages, that’s not something that you could have always have said about Leeds.
A lot of the bigger teams will be glad Leeds United are back in the Premier League but the reason they are glad is because that rivalry and intensity ramps up again.
Some of the big clubs will absolutely relish the prospect of going up against Leeds when the fans are back in again.
But Dallas has managed to go about his business in an unassuming, responsible and mature manner and not mature in a condescending way.
He has been an ultimate team player and, towards the end of the season, he chipped in with absolutely vital goals and very composed goals.
Those goals reflect the standard of player that he is and all the while he has been able to call himself an international footballer with Northern Ireland.
It’s very much safe to say that his career has absolutely blossomed at Leeds.
When it came to considering who should have been United’s player of the year following the club’s promotion-winning campaign, my general thought was give it to them all after getting the club back to the Premier League after 16 years.
That was a phenomenal achievement.
Part of me now thinks give it to them all again for staying there.
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Thank you Laura Collins