Archie Gray: The academy has been everything to me

The midfielder speaks as part of EFL Youth Development Week.

Archie Gray PFA.jpg

Leeds United youngster Archie Gray has praised the club’s academy for their part in the midfielder’s development, after collecting February’s PFA Fans’ Championship Player of the Month Award.

Speaking to former Whites defender Ben Parker as part of EFL Youth Development Week, Archie explained his delight with how the season has played out for him so far.

“My goal was to play as many games as I could,” said the 18-year-old. “Obviously, I didn’t think I would have played as many games as I have done now. I have been lucky for the manager to trust me as much as he does, but in the off-season, I worked as hard as I could to try and impress him and it worked.

“It has been a really good month and it is important we carry it on especially towards the end of the season to try keep getting the results. For me, it has been a really good month, getting the results and grinding the results out in some really tough games and some really important games. There have been some good performances from everyone I think.”

Archie has been an integral part of Daniel Farke’s promotion chasing side this campaign, either in midfield or as a full-back, and that form helped him earn a first call up to the England Under-21 set up this international break.

Making his debut off the bench against Azerbaijan U21s, Gray took just minutes to grab his first goal for the Young Lions, finishing brilliantly to put England 5-1 up in their UEFA EURO U21 Qualifier.

First appearing on a Premier League substitutes bench aged 15, Archie believes that having a clear pathway from the academy helped his development, and now he is reaping the rewards on the pitch.

“Everything happens for a reason and I have been around the first team squad for quite a while now. It has helped me a lot, especially now, and I think just being around the first team players and knowing what the fans are like all adds up. Even injuries give you a chance to grow a little bit, put muscle on and prepare for the men’s game.

“The academy has been everything to me. I have been lucky to come through here and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. I think it has been the best place for me to progress as a kid and a young adult.

“I have been lucky to have the coaches that I have had and I still speak to them to this day. They are still in the education block in their offices and I go over every day to speak to them. Like I said, I am lucky to have had the upbringing I have had and this academy has been perfect for me.”

EFL Youth Development Week showcases next-generation of talent, with latest figures showing that EFL Academy-developed players have made over 3,000 appearances across the Championship, League One and League Two so far this season.

More information can be found HERE.

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