As preseason is about to start, I got the opportunity to speak to Ronaldo Vieira ahead of a vital season in his Leeds United career.
The talented midfielder has been spoken about a lot over the past months, with plenty of fans excited to see how the Guinea-Bissau born midfielder will feature in Garry Monk's new squad.
There's no doubt we are expecting big things from Ronaldo, who came from the illustrious i2i Sports academy after leaving Benfica some years ago.
I remember speaking to his agent when Ronaldo was a mysterious player who had been involved in a development squad friendly and from then on, it was clear the young lad had a bright future in football.
We have now spoken to Ronaldo on several occasions and I can once again say that he has been happy to answer our questions in the run up to preseason, where he could be heavily featured in the first teams plans.
Here's what he had to say:
We'd first like to say congratulations on signing a two-year deal with Leeds, how did it feel when you signed the contract?
It was a great feeling to sign my first pro contract. It has been my dream to play professional football and this was too.
Did you expect to be placed in the squad for the last game of the season?
No not at all. In the week leading up to the game I trained with the first team, but I had trained with the first team on previous occasions and was not expecting to be selected in the squad. It was a huge surprise.
How did it feel to step out on to the pitch in a Leeds United shirt?
It was a mixture of emotions – nervous, proud, excited, honoured.
How has your progress increased since joining the youth academy at Thorp Arch?
It has been a huge learning curve and I have progressed as a player and as a person thanks to the fantastic staff at the academy. I have been able to develop and improve my game, and I enjoy every minute of it.
After leaving the fantastic i2i academy and joining Leeds, do you think the sports agency will continue to bring fantastic youth players like yourself into the English leagues?
Yes, definitely. The i2i Academy has some amazing coaches who know how to get the best out of players and help them progress to pro clubs. The agency has been behind me every step of the way and I couldn’t have got here without them.
We know you are capable of playing a multitude of positions, but what is your favourite position to play?
Is there any player in the English League who you can compare your style too?
I don’t really like to compare myself to other players and I try to develop my own playing style by learning from all the great players.
You now have a squad number, can we hope of seeing the number 37 light up Elland Road this season?
I hope so. It would be a dream come true.
Do you think that your preseason could include a few opportunities to play in the first team?
It would be fantastic to be involved with the first team in preseason and hopefully I will get the opportunity to do so.
Where do you think Leeds will finish at the end of the season?
Top of the league!!
So there you have it, I must say it's refreshing to know that a young footballer will take the time out of his schedule to answer some of our questions. In an age when many would brush it off, I have to thank Ronaldo, his agent Stephen and the i2i Sports Agency for giving me the opportunity.
Ronaldo has a bright future ahead of him and I can't wait to see him step out in front of a welcoming Elland Road crowd.
Good luck Ronaldo!
By Ryan Ingham
Don't forget to check out the i2i Sports Academy and Agency if you have a young child that is looking to progress his footballing skills. You can check them out at http://www.i2ifootballacademy.com
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