Aidy White: It is a real opportunity for everyone

Aidy White: It is a real opportunity for everyone

Ex-Whites defender looks ahead to FA Youth Cup tie.

Former Leeds United wide-man Aidy White believes Thursday’s FA Youth Cup Quarter Final clash with Liverpool will provide the players with valuable experience, discussing his own memories of the competition with

An academy graduate himself, White played a starring role in the First Round of the 2008/09 FA Youth Cup, grabbing a goal in a 2-0 win away at Chester as United progressed into the second round.

An impressive second-half display against Leicestershire side Oadby Town saw the Whites record a resounding 3-0 win to set up a tie with Liverpool at Elland Road.

Despite a positive performance, Leeds’ youngsters fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat against the Reds, who would go on to reach the final that year, losing out to an Arsenal side that included former Whites players Luke Ayling, Kyle Bartley and Sanchez Watt.

“When we drew Liverpool at home, it was the biggest game many of us had played in at that point of our careers,” explained the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international.

Aidy White


“There was so much anticipation and buzz around it, especially with it being the FA Youth Cup and the history of that. I played on the left wing that game and I remember I had a few chances, that to this day I think I should have scored!

"It was a great atmosphere and one of those occasions we were desperate to win to put ourselves in the manager’s thoughts and showcase what we could do.”

Having last won the competition in 1997, Rob Etherington’s side are enjoying a strong campaign this time around as they look to write their names into the history books.

A 2-0 victory at Carrow Road saw Leeds knock out Norwich City in the Third Round of the tournament, before an emphatic 4-0 win on the south coast over Brighton & Hove Albion booked a Fifth Round Yorkshire Derby with Sheffield United away from home.

Under the Bramall Lane lights, the Blades took the tie to penalties despite Marley Wilson's well-taken opener.

Goalkeeper Rory Mahady would become the hero on the night for Leeds, making two stunning saves in the shootout as United set up the tie with Liverpool.

Bramall Lane

White, who made over 100 appearances across all competitions for his boyhood club, has been impressed with the performances he has seen so far from the Leeds youngsters this campaign.

He said: “I watched the Norwich game where they put in a really good performance down at Carrow Road.

"Away from home they have really impressed me. Rory Mahady in the last round made some fantastic saves as we beat Sheffield United on penalties. Charlie Crew looks to possess great quality in midfield and can pick out a pass.

“Marley Wilson up top looks a threat who is strong and holds the ball up really well. Coban Bird, the left-back, I was really impressed with in the game at Norwich, so there is quality all over the pitch.

"There are a lot of players with potential who have the opportunity to showcase what they can do.”

With 21 points to their name after 16 matches, the Whites sit sixth in the U18 Premier League North standings after beating Sunderland last time out at Thorp Arch.

The experience of playing against strong opposition at youth level will put the players in good stead heading into the clash according to White, who believes ties like this are vital for their development.

“At that age, it is the first time a lot of the lads will have experienced the do or die of the cup and the romance of the cup too.

"Playing at Elland Road under the lights is going to be a fantastic opportunity for some of them. A few might have played in stadiums before, but they might not have had the crowd and the atmosphere which will play a huge part!”


Despite the pressures of playing in front of supporters, White is confident Etherington’s players will be able to go about their business as normal, whilst using some of that outside noise as added incentive to go out and impress.

“That extra little bit of pressure might bring out an extra 10% in performance if you handle it the right way and don’t let it get to you too much,” added the 32-year-old. “The build-up can be nerve-wracking but once that first ball is kicked, it becomes a normal game.”

A supporter who grew up to realise his dream of playing for the club, White wants the current crop of academy players to look at former stars for inspiration as they try follow in the footsteps of previous Thorp Arch graduates.

“Leeds United has an amazing pathway and I think as an academy player you can look at players that have come through it like James Milner, Fabian Delph and Jonny Howson. All those amazing players that have had such fantastic careers, you can look at that and think that there is an opportunity there.

“We have huge history of promoting academy players and the Youth Cup is a massive platform to go and show the first team staff and management what you can do.

"It also gives the fans a chance to see the next academy players coming through that might play in the first team too. It is a real opportunity for everyone!”

Should the Whites beat Liverpool, Leeds would progress to the semi-finals stage for the first time since 1998, where Millwall await.

“From what I have seen, we have some really talented players so it would be amazing if we could do something memorable,” White finishes with. “I wish them all the best and hopefully we can get a good performance and make it an amazing cup run.

"I’m looking forward to getting down there and supporting the boys and I know there will be plenty of fans there backing them as well! ”

Information about attending the match can be found HERE.