Exclusive: Leeds’ youngster Archie Gray shows positive mindset to make EPL, dreams of making England team

The 18-year-old stays focused on the goal, but also shares his dreams of making the national team.

Neil Goulding
Neil Goulding

Last Updated: 2024-04-19

Louis Hobbs

4 minutes read

Footballer Archie Gray in Leeds United tracksuit

A tight battle on the final stretch 

Teenage terror Archie Gray is confident promotion-chasing Leeds United can finish the season with a flourish and claim a memorable Premier League return.

The ambitious Whites have dazzled for much of this season but two defeats in their last three league fixtures has seen them slip to third in the EFL Championship standings with three games to go.

And 18-year-old star midfielder Gray is ready to embrace the “exciting” challenge and knows victories will be the key to securing a place in the top, where automatic promotion is guaranteed.

“It’s going right to the wire, but we’ve just got to focus game by game and stay as calm as we possibly can and just focus on ourselves,” stressed Gray, ahead of Monday's crunch clash with Middlesbrough.

“It’s been a really intense season and, for the fans, it’s probably been the best season to watch.

“We need to try and get the wins in these next few games and see where it can take us.

“You can definitely enjoy it [this promotion battle], you can enjoy this competition.

quote icon

We’re battling for the best league in the world, you’ve got to enjoy it.

Archie Gray

“As much as it is stressful, you do have to take a step back and look at what you’re doing and take the enjoyment.

“But I just think it’s important these next few games that we just focus on the results.”

Image Credits: Gary Calton/The Guardian

Image Credits: Gary Calton/The Guardian

Closing the gap after a mediocre month

Leeds won nine league games on the spin during a fine purple patch from New Year’s Day up until 23 February, a two-month period where they didn’t lose a game in any competition.

But a frustrating 2-1 away loss to Coventry City at the start of this month, followed by a goalless home draw with Sunderland and a shock 1-0 loss to mid-table Blackburn last Saturday, has seen the misfiring Whites pick up just ONE point from their last three league matches.

On Monday, Gray and his teammates face Boro away looking to get back on track, with leaders Ipswich and second-placed Leicester in the driving seat in what promises to be a thrilling finish to the season.

“They’re not ideal results, but we’ve still got three games – and the gap isn’t too much,” added Gray.

“I think we can close the gap, but we’ve just got to focus on ourselves.

“These last three games have got to be like three finals for us.

“I think I’m lucky with the season and team that I’ve come into because the experience I’m getting now is second to none.

“It’s my first time playing professional football and I’ve been lucky with the manager [Daniel Farke] trusting me and all the games I’ve had, I’m really grateful.

“I’m lucky to have the teammates that I’ve got, the manager and his coaching staff, and also the people around me.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of playing for Leeds, I’m still a kid and I’m taking in every experience.

“I love being around the team and I’m enjoying every moment.

“Ever since I was young I used to watch my dad play and I heard about my uncle playing and my grandad Frank, I’ve always had to live up to it.

“My dad’s been really good with me for advice, but I’ve been very lucky that everything has come together for me.

“Ever since I was 15 things have come at my so quickly, but I’ve just got to be grateful for what I’ve got and keep improving.”

Image Credits: These Football Times

Image Credits: These Football Times

Continuing the family football legacy 

Gray has been brought up in a family rich in footballing heritage. His dad Andy played for Leeds and a string of top clubs, while his uncle Eddie and grandad Frank are both Leeds’ legends.

All three played for Scotland, but Gray is hungry to play for England one day having represented his country at youth level.

“Hopefully I can [get England recognition], but I’ve just got to take it step by step and keep focusing on my club football, which can hopefully attract the attention of whoever it is, whether it’s the [England] Under-21s or it’s the first team,” said Archie.

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I’d be really happy just to play for my country.

Archie Gray

“My hopes are to play for England, definitely. It’s where I’m from and where I’ve grown up. I’m three-quarters English, so that’s where I’m at.

“My dad is totally happy for whatever makes me happy, even though Eddie supports Scotland.

“But I’m the same as him, I’m happy as long as he’s happy.”

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Neil Goulding
Neil GouldingSenior Sports Reporter

Neil has been a journalist for longer than he'd care to remember, having written for national newspapers and respected publications for over 25 years. For the last three years he has worked freelance for BBC Sport, working on the production desk as a sub-editor and also as a writer, covering a whole range of sports.