As injuries to senior players placed heavy demands on the club’s young talents, Gelhardt was often summoned in the Whites’ hour of need and fans were delighted by the consistency with which the striker answered the call emphatically.
The 20-year-old’s eye-catching assist for Pascal Struijk’s late equaliser against Brighton and Hove Albion, remarkable for its exuberant skill and season-changing significance, will surely be among Gelhardt’s most treasured memories when he looks back on his early career, but his assault on Lewis Dunk’s dignity is just one example of Gelhardt handing United a lifeline in their struggle to resist relegation.
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Gelhardt was unfortunate that referee Chris Kavanagh’s generous penalty to Chelsea took the shine off his first Leeds goal, which was on course to steal a precious point before Jorginho snatched the limelight, though the Liverpudlian struck the same blow on Norwich City by gazumping their late goal with an even later act of heroism.
With each passing week, the calls for Joffy grew louder and the paltry fee United paid Gelhardt’s former club Wigan Athletic for the talent looked more and more like a crazy bargain.
Now the club have moved to pin the youngster down, opening up talks over a new contract with improved terms – and the news comes as sweet relief to United fans, who know well the player’s true worth.
"Finally some good news,” @Campbell_Simm told Twitter, “some talent is this boy of ours.”
“’Like music to the ears,” @Rogercart57 said.
“Good good,” wrote @Nick28T, “Needs to happen ASAP.”
So highly do United prize their young prodigy, dubbed “the best on earth” (@Liam_Thompson91) and “the next Rooney” (@LukeWGreen) that @WM90_ even declared that the new contract is: “One of the most crucial moves we needed to make this window. I was worried it was going under the radar, needs to get done.”
@Phillipjdaniels even claimed the development was the “best news all summer”, while @C_Ellis92 agreed that “this, right here, would be probably the best business this summer!”
With a raft of significant incomings and outgoings taking place this summer, the 2022/2023 represents the start of a new era at Leeds United as a team made entirely in Jesse Marsch’s image will kick off against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening day of the season next month.
The Elland Road faithful are sure though, that whatever the American’s plans for the future of the squad, Gelhardt must play a central role.
"The lad’s served his apprenticeship,” @Robertkas88 believes, “time for Jesse Marsch to give him a lot more playing time next season.”
“Gelhardt’s sublime skill in the last minutes for Struijk’s goal against Brighton was the defining moment to keep us up,” wrote @Thrill1978, “he’s pivotal to our future.”
As United stars Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha inch closer to their Elland Road departures, some supporters are already imagining who could fill the space they leave.
"Brilliant news,” @Soppy13mot wrote. “Give him the 10 shirt while we’re at it.”