Youth Teams
Youth Teams

The England U20s and Leeds United midfielder tells us his story ahead of new season

Ronaldo Vieira’s journey to the England set-up has certainly taken a different path to that of his team-mates. The Leeds United midfielder is in the U20s squad to face the Netherlands and Switzerland this week, having impressed during his first trip away with the Young Lions for the victorious Toulon Tournament in May. And the 19-year-old explains his footballing journey so far and his pride at representing his adopted country.

Wednesday 30 Aug 2017
Ronaldo Vieira was part of the England U20s squad who won the Toulon Tournament this summer

My journey here is certainly different to most of the other lads, but everything has played a part in making me the player and the person I am today.

I first left Portugal with my family to go to Newcastle, just for a holiday, and then we knew we were going to come back to live in England after we’d gone back.

I’d always played football in Portugal and after a few years of playing locally, both me and my brother joined the Benfica academy, so it was great to be a part of a professional set-up at that age.

England v Netherlands
  • International U20 Match
  • 7pm, Thursday 31 August 2017
  • New Bucks Head, Telford
  • Tickets: £3/£1
  • Call 01952 640064 for tickets

But when we moved to England and settled down in Bradford at first, I just had to start again by playing football locally in the Sunday leagues.

We moved to Leeds after a year or so, when I joined a school team and then an academy in York, which really helped me to become the player I am today.

From there, I got a trial at Leeds and it’s just gone so quickly since.

When I first joined Leeds United, I had no idea how big a club it was. After I signed, I heard more about the stories of what they’d done in the previous years of their history.

I was in the academy for a year before I made my debut and once I got into the first team, I was so proud of myself.

Last season, getting into the team at Leeds and playing a lot of football was amazing for me, I wasn’t expecting to play as many games as I did and it’s all happened so fast.

Leeds is my home now, it’s my home town, my home team and I’m really happy and enjoying it.

The opportunity came about to play for England at the end of last season and even though I can also play for Portugal, I didn’t think twice and I was up for it straight away.

When I was told I was going to get the call-up everyone was happy for me, the club, the fans, my team-mates and especially my family so it was another proud moment.

My first trip away to the Toulon Tournament was such a memorable experience for me. It was my first call-up with England and I enjoyed it.

The boys and staff were really welcoming and obviously winning the tournament as well, it made it even better.

Ronaldo Vieira in typically combative action for Leeds United

We went away as a group of players who hadn’t worked together before, but from the very start, the team spirit was good and we all got on with each other.

When we got to France, we did a lot of stuff together outside of the training pitch which helped us a lot during the games and we formed a bond which got us through every single game and into the final.

I’m excited to be back again with the U20s this season and we’ve got some very good games to look forward to.

We’re a new squad again, but the boys look threatening and we’ve got a really good team and a really good group.

We want to build on what happened with the U19s last year, winning the European Championship, which was a great achievement for the country and most of those players are here now, so we want to keep that momentum going and keep winning games.

If we do happen to play Portugal at some stage this season, I’d be very happy with that and would hopefully see some of the boys who I used to play with at Benfica.

There’s a few of the same players who are involved with the Benfica B team in the Portuguese second division.

I was speaking to Chris Willock about it, as he’s just moved over there to play for them and he said a few of the players I knew were doing well, so it’s good that they’re progressing.

I still keep in contact with some of them and they’re happy to see my progress with England and Leeds too.

We have some tough games this season so we’re all looking forward to cracking on with it.

By FA Staff