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Leeds United young starlet speaks of international decisions

Since shining in a trial game for Leeds United’s U-21 side against an Isle of Man XI, Guinea-Bissau-born youngster Ronaldo Vieira has had something of a Nick Jarvis, or Roy Race, rise to fame as a Leeds United player.

As a result of his performance that day, one that belied the maturity of his tender years, plus a string of impressive performances in the Under-18 and Under-21 squads, Leeds signed him to a two-year scholarship deal. That was September 30 2015; just eight months later and on a steady diet of Under-21 games, Ronaldo Vieira signed his first professional on May 5 2016 – appearing in the first team two days later for the last game of the season against Preston North End at Deepdale.

Since then the 18-year-old has seen his stock rise dramatically to the point that he can be considered a first team regular, having made 26 appearances for the Whites this season. He has put in the level of displays and performance that have caught the eyes of opposition managers, drawing attention to him, with managers such as Derby’s Steve McClaren saying of him after Derby’s 1-0 Elland Road loss: “Vieira — wow. He’s got a bright future that boy.”

In an interview with The Sun, his first for a national paper, the youngster opens up a little on his route to Elland Road, a route that was not without setbacks and obstacles. His father passed away whilst the youngster was five and still in the African country of his birth.

This brought about a quick move to Portugal for Ronaldo Vieira and twin Romario, named by their mother after the two Brazilian legends who played in the 1998 World Cup Final against France. A further move brought the family to England where they settled in Batley, with Vieira failing in his first attempts at trials with Premier League giants Manchester City and Leeds themselves.

After failed trials, it was whilst studying at York College and playing for its i2i Academy set-up that the youngster got spotted by Leeds, being invited for a second trial; the rest, as they say, is history.

The youngster also touched on the question of his international allegiances should his meteoric rise continue to head towards the stratosphere. Whilst he is dedicated to Leeds United, his international dedication lays away from these shores. The powerful young midfielder qualifies to play for Guinea-Bissau, Portugal and England, with his first choice adamantly clear. When asked, Vieira said: “My choice will always be Portugal. If they don’t come, I’m eligible to play for England.”

Ronaldo Vieira has gone on, since being given that fleeting opportunity by Steve Evans against Preston North End, to bigger and better things – this improvement no doubt ongoing. A series of increasingly impressive displays against some more than handy sides, and some highly acclaimed midfielders, has definitely set the young Leeds starlet as ‘one-to-watch’. Vieira himself puts this down to Leeds manager Garry Monk saying: “It’s good to know the manager is not scared of playing young players if he thinks we are capable.”

Capable is just what young starlet Vieira is and he could get a further chance to demonstrate this capability when Leeds United take on Neil Warnock’s Cardiff side at Elland Road this afternoon, the Whites hoping to rebound from a disappointing 2-1 loss to Huddersfield Town.

Victory today over the Bluebirds will take Leeds United to their seventh consecutive home win, one where the Whites will also be looking to keep up a clean sheet record at Elland Road stretching back six games, 576 minutes to the 2-0 defeat they suffered against Newcastle United on November 20 last year.

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