Sam Greenwood: the free-kick master hoping to emulate Kalvin Phillips’ breakthrough at Leeds United

19-year-old Sam Greenwood has produced goals aplenty for Leeds United’s Under-23s.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 3:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th October 2021, 3:20 pm

Practice, practice, practice. Through constant rehearsal as a kid who dreamed of playing in the Premier League, Greenwood achieved the lethal knack for free-kicks for which he has become feared across PL2.

Having bagged 15 goals for the Whites in the last 14 months, the forward has proved that he can score from dead balls or from open play and - crucially - he can do it with both feet.

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Sunderland-born Greenwood began his football career at the Black Cats’ academy before departing for London aged 16.

In 2018, Greenwood joined the Arsenal academy for a fee believed to be in the region of £500,000. Quickly becoming an Under-18s regular, Greenwood scored 10 in 18 starts for the young Gunners in his first season before breaking into the Under-23s aged just 17, all while working his way up the England age groups.

His performances turned heads at Thorp Arch, and the Whites poached the young player in August 2020 for a reported fee of £1.5 million.

Greenwood seemed delighted to return to the North after two years in London, suggesting he related to the people of Leeds, a working class area not dissimilar to his home town of Sunderland.

Sam Greenwood v Real Betis. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.

The young player cited the example set by Kalvin Phillips too, suggesting that he’d like to follow in the Yorkshireman’s footsteps by breaking into the first team from the Leeds academy.

“‘For me it seems like there’s such a good pathway for young players to come through,” Greenwood said. “Such an exciting manager, and the fans are special.”

Greenwood immediately impressed, winning PL2 Player of the Month just weeks after his arrival, and became a permanent fixture in Mark Jackson’s side as the Under-23s stormed to PL2 Division 2 victory, lifting the trophy and gaining promotion at the first time of asking.

Jackson deployed Greenwood - who arrived as an out-and-out striker - both as a number 9 and as an attacking midfielder and the 19-year-old excelled in both roles, contributing 12 goals to the Whites’ tally.

Sam Greenwood v Guiseley. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.

In January 2021, head coach Marcelo Bielsa handed Greenwood his first team debut. In the second half, Leif Davis made way for the striker, who could not prevent the Whites from falling to a 3-0 FA Cup defeat to League Two outfit Crawley Town.

The Argentine included the forward in his Premier League matchday squad for the first time in April 2021, and Greenwood watched from the sidelines as Leeds held Manchester United to a goalless draw at Elland Road.

The attacker has remained in Bielsa’s thoughts, and has featured on all but three of the coach’s team sheets in the league so far this season, though he is yet to come off the bench.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old has scored three goals in six league appearances for the Under-23s this season and last month, Greenwood made his debut for England Under-20s, starting in a 6-1 win over Romania at St. George’s Park.

Sam Greenwood at Arsenal. Pic: James Chance/Getty

The forward was called up again by Andy Edwards for the latest round of international fixtures. Greenwood could appear at Chesterfield FC on Thursday night as England Under 20s take on Italy, and there’s another chance for a cap as the Young Lions travel to the Czech Republic on Monday.

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