It was just under a year ago that Ronaldo Vieira stepped up and rattled home his penalty to seal the Toulon Tournament for England’s under 20 side. This summer he’s heading back to try to do the same but this year he’s stepping up to the under 21’s.
The moment Vieira swept England to glory in France was great for everyone involved with Leeds, a player who came through the academy after signing from the i2i system just a year or so earlier had already won the hearts and minds of the Elland Rod faithful. He had just signed a new deal as the tournament was starting, Leeds had actually headed to the England camp to get the four-year-deal signed and sealed, all was rosy for the youngster. It didn’t start like that last season. For some reason Thomas Christiansen had chosen Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips as his preferred partnership in the middle of the park and for the first month that was fair enough, the pair were performing above our expectation levels and Vieira struggled to even make the bench, Christiansen using the tournament as his reason to leave Vieira out.
A problem became obvious soon after, we went on a horrible run and O’Kane, along with partner Kalvin Phillips were having a disaster in the middle of the pitch but still no Vieira, no Klich either. Christiansen was becoming so stubborn that even the media began to openly question him as the defeats racked up. O’Kane was played with cracked ribs against Sheffield Wednesday in a humiliating defeat and eventually Christiansen, seemingly against his will picked Vieira. We won 0-3 but the problems had mounted up and as the season went on Vieira was always playing catch-up and his form wasn’t great. He did put in some better performances towards the end of the season but I think this tournament, unlike the last will do him nothing but good.