HEAD COACH Paul Heckingbottom has reminded teenage star Ronaldo Vieira to enjoy his “meteoric” rise to Leeds United’s first team in order to “maximise everything that he has”.
Vieira burst on to the scene from United’s Academy when the midfielder made his Whites debut as a 17-year-old in the season finale 1-1 draw at Preston North End in May 2016.
The teen then enjoyed a superb first full season at Leeds as he made 38 appearances as part of a campaign that was capped with the midfielder helping England under-20s win the Toulon Tournament in France.
But Vieira has yet to cement a regular starting spot in his second full season at Leeds and the midfielder played no part in Heckingbottom’s first two games in charge as an unused substitute for both the 2-1 loss at Sheffield United and the 2-2 draw at home to Bristol City. The 19-year-old was then handed his first start under Heckingbottom in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw at Derby County but the Guinea Bissau-born star was taken off three minutes after the hour for Kalvin Phillips.
“I’ll know more, the more I get to know Ronaldo,” said Heckingbottom, asked about how he could best develop Vieira’s talents.
“Certain things I wouldn’t say because it will always be private between me and him but I’ve had a chat with him and he definitely puts a lot of pressure in himself.
“He’s sort of had a meteoric rise if you like from where he was a couple of years ago to where he is now and you’ve got to enjoy that and think what it took to get there because he’s not the finished article by any means and that’s what can happen.
“Young players burst on to the scene and the expectations go through the roof from usually everyone around them and that gets passed on to the player. He’s a footballer because he loves it and I bet if you asked him now, his perspective on football now to what it was three years ago would be totally different.
“He definitely puts pressure on himself but in a good way which is important because he wants to do well but I don’t want anything to stifle him. I don’t want anything to confuse him as to what he is very good at, what he needs to improve at and ultimately get him into a place where he can maximise everything that he has.”