Leeds United youngster Mateo Joseph says he is “very happy” with his progression at Elland Road after making his Carabao Cup and Premier League debuts for the club last week.
The 19-year-old striker made the switch from Espanyol in January after Leeds nipped in to secure his signature.
Since then Joseph has risen through the Leeds ranks after scoring 11 goals in eight appearances for the Under-21s.
That resulted in a senior debut for the Whites in the Carabao Cup loss at Wolves. Joseph gave a good account of himself despite the loss and was included in the matchday squad for the Premier League trip to Tottenham.
And while he did not expect to see any action, Joseph was called off the bench to play in the final five minutes.
Having made his Premier League debut, Joseph, speaking to Marca, has lifted the lid on his emotions.
He said: “In the 85th minute I go out to warm up and suddenly the coach tells me ‘Come on, come out.’ I looked at him wide-eyed, changed very quickly and listened to what I had to do when I went out on the field. I wanted to show my abilities, I didn’t get nervous, and I really wanted to show myself.”
The Spaniard joined Espanyol as a highly-rated 13-year-old, touted with huge potential. However, despite being on the club’s books for four years, he failed to make a single appearance for them.
Joseph said it was a “difficult decision” to make the switch from Catalonia to Yorkshire, but was convinced by the success of United’s youth set-up.
Joseph added: “We saw Leeds, that many kids made their debut and stayed in the team and that’s why we went here.”
Mateo Joseph taking his chance at Leeds
The teenager’s transition to living in England has been made easier by several factors, including some of his new teammates.
“I go to train in the morning, and when I finish, I do the things in the university, I’m studying business management and I also watch a lot of videos of training sessions and games to see what I’m doing well and improve,” Joseph added.
“It is a noticeable change, I am lucky that my father’s family is from England, and I have not had any complications with the language, since I was young, they have spoken English to me and that takes a load off my mind. And the club is also very familiar, both the club workers and my colleagues welcomed me and took care of me, and those of the first team as well.”
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch has said that giving chances to youth players like Joseph is key to them developing their confidence and careers.
Crysencio Summerville was in a similar situation to Joseph up until recently, but is another who has been gradually eased into the first team.
Now, in the past few weeks, Summerville has scored four goals in the Premier League, including a famous late winner at Anfield last month, which even had Raphinha buzzing.
If Joseph can be given the same time to develop his game, he undoubtedly has the potential to play at the highest level.
Speaking to LeedsLive, Marsch said: “One of the challenges between the under-21s and the Premier League, is that gap is pretty big, right? Even when you see our team defend set-pieces against Wolves versus when they’re in the 21s.
Marsch happy to give youth a chance
“Those physical parts and the mentality moments of what the Premier League is, is night and day compared to the 21s. The tactical part, the technical part, their ability to fit into the speed of play, they can manage that fairly well, but it’s often the power at which the game is played at the highest level and that is the biggest challenge.
“I like giving young players opportunities because I’ve very seldom been let down. When they’ve shown they’re making progress and when, again, you give them belief in themselves and in the process typically they overachieve and then once they overachieve and get the taste of success, that can really motivate them to get even better.”
Despite the challenges ahead of him, Joseph said that he was keen to repay the faith placed in him by his manager.
Joesph added: “[Playing in the under-21s] allows you to develop better to players of our age, it’s a great idea, you play against great teams.
“Since the end of last season, I knew this was very important, both to return the trust placed in me in January and for me personally. I am very happy because all the work I’ve been doing is being seen and I really want to keep improving.”