Defender given PFA accolade.
Luke Ayling has been recognised for his commitment to community projects and has been named Leeds United’s PFA Community Champion for the 2022/23 campaign.
The defender has been involved in a number of important initiatives throughout the season and as ever, has given everything in whatever he has taken part in off the pitch, as he does on it.
Luke kicked off the 2022/23 season by becoming the first ever Premier League player to march in a Pride event, showing his support for the LGBTQ+ community and walking side by side with our official LGBTQ+ fan group, Marching Out Together.
Throughout the campaign, the 31-year-old has also spoken openly about his stutter – acting as a real inspiration for others, especially youngsters who also suffer with a speech impediment. This has resulted in the club receiving various letters, emails, and social media interactions to say how Luke has helped those who have struggled previously, and Luke has been active in responding to people, with three young children recently being invited to the training ground to meet and speak with him face-to-face.
Some of the other activities and campaigns Luke has been involved in and showed support for include Autism awareness, Down syndrome awareness, Yorkshire Cancer Research – the club’s official charity partner, Social Goals which is a Leeds United Foundation programme for people aged over 50 to support with social isolation, and he also led the team on our annual visit to Leeds Children's Hospital at Christmas.
The Leeds United vice-captain is a real fan favourite who always has time for others and he does everything with a huge smile on his face. Luke never shies away from discussing important topics, and always encourages others to be their true selves, and to not allow external factors and opinions to influence how they live their lives.
After receiving the PFA Community Champion award for 2022/23, he said: "It's a great feeling to be named as the Community Champion and I've been lucky enough to get involved in some really great initiatives this season, meeting some great people along the way.
“Taking part in Leeds Pride was a real highlight, it was such a great experience to see how many thousands of people had turned out and seeing how happy everyone was, and I know that it meant a lot to our LGBTQ+ fans, so I am really glad I could be there and show my support.
"If I am able to put smiles on faces or encourage someone to talk about something they may be struggling with or help make sure someone feels welcome as part of the Leeds United family, then that's what it is all about, and I hope I can continue to do all of those things!"