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Leeds United


Leeds star Summerville names Liverpool great who shaped career and reveals huge Archie Gray belief

Leeds stars Crysencio Summerville and, inset, Archie Gray

Leeds stars Crysencio Summerville and, inset, Archie Gray

Crysencio Summerville has outlined to TEAMtalk his huge hopes for Archie Gray, the two Leeds teammates he loves to go for a coffee with and how a Liverpool great helped nurture his formative years in the game.

The Dutch winger, recently crowned Championship Player of the Year, will be central to Leeds United‘s bid to overcome Southampton in Sunday’s play-off final at Wembley and will be the player Daniel Farke really needs at his best if they are to book their return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Summerville has been exceptional this season, scoring 21 goals and adding 10 assists, making him the first Leeds player to reach double figures in both G/A columns in the same season since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink achieved the feat in 1998/99.

It wasn’t all a bed of roses though for Summerville, who had to work hard on ensuring his attitude was right to make it as a top-class professional football.

The Dutchman’s timekeeping, by his own admission, was awry for routine commitments such as being ready for the start of a training session.

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Summerville has matured considerably during his four years at Elland Road, but his story begins in his native Rotterdam, where he caught the eye in the youth ranks at Feyenoord.

Being nurtured by popular former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt helped shape Summerville during his formative years.

“Growing up I watched Neymar and Messi a lot, but in Rotterdam I looked up to Eljero Elia, a left winger from Feyenoord, and a Dutch legend in Dirk Kuyt,” the 22-year-old forward told TEAMtalk.

“He was also my coach in the Under-19s, so I learned a lot from him.”

Summerville on his ‘scary’ move to Leeds

Summerville continued: “He [Kuyt] taught me more about things off the pitch because I was struggling a bit in terms of maturity.

“The small details, for example, like not being late to training and instead being the first one on the pitch.

“These are the small details which can make the difference, so I’m very thankful for that.”

In September 2020, Summerville arrived at Elland Road on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee, believed to be £1.3m, from Feyenoord in what was to prove one of Victor Orta’s finest masterstrokes.

The previous season, he spent time on loan at ADO Den Haag, where he made 21 Eredivisie appearances, scoring two goals.

“At first I was a bit scared because it was a big decision to come to Leeds,” Summerville remembers.

“I was 18 at the time and had a good conversation with Victor Orta and Andrea Radrizzani.

“I’m a person who if I have a good feeling that the plan is right then I’ll just do it.

“As soon as I came here, the coaching staff and players took to me really well.

“Marcelo Bielsa was in charge at the time and I was impressed with everything here.

“It took me a couple of months to settle in, but after that I just felt like it was my new home. I’m happy with the decision to come here.”

Huge Archie Gray career trajectory

Four years on, Summerville believes his professionalism and status within the squad can rub off on younger players such as Archie Gray.

The Whites teenager has proved an absolute revelation this season, making 51 appearances across all competitions, and earning interest in his services from the likes of Liverpool, Man City, Borussia Dortmund and even Manchester United.

If Leeds don’t go up on Sunday, Gray will find his name strongly linked with an exit.

Summerville is paying no attention to the speculation, however, and has explained the nurturing role he has taken with Gray.

“I will speak to the younger lads because I’ve been in the same position as them,” he says.

“Yes, I speak with them a lot and tell them to make the best out of their careers.

“I have to say that Archie is a great and a big talent.

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“He’s doing very well and I’m happy for him and where he could go in his career.”

Summerville, who scored Leeds’ final goal in last Thursday’s 4-0 play-off semi-final win against Norwich City, is ready to face a Southampton side who beat Farke’s men twice during the regular league campaign.

Summerville reasons: “Both games were in a different period and this is a play-off final – it’s totally different so we will approach the game differently.

“When you look at the lads we’ve got, it’s the best group I’ve ever been involved with.

“The potential here is very big, but we need to win the play-off final first.

“Hopefully we can do that and then see what we can do in the Premier League.”

Summerville names Leeds duo as his closest friends at Elland Road

Summerville has also combined to devastating effect with Leeds’ attacking players this season and is particularly close to Willy Gnonto and Georginio Rutter.

“It’s always good to have a strong friendship in your team,” he says.

“As soon as they came in, I saw them as my brothers.

“Our friendship has grown a lot this season, so I’m very happy to play with them and I think you can tell that on the pitch.

“Sometimes away from football we go for food or coffee.

“When we have something to celebrate, such as our birthdays, we will do it.”

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Victory for Farke’s side at Wembley on Sunday would kickstart the mother of all promotion parties.

Summerville adds: “As I grew up I saw England playing at Wembley and some finals as well.

“To know now I’m going to play there myself on Sunday is very big. I can’t wait actually, I’m looking forward to it.”

Summerville was in conversation with Ross Heppenstall.